Friday, September 04, 2009

Ganesh Chaturthi!

As you can see I am coming back after a long long time, so thought what better occasion than the ever auspicious event of Ganesh Chaturthi.
Ganesh Chaturthi- marks the birth of Lord Ganesha on the fourth day of the first fortnight of theHindu month of Bhadrapada(hence the word Cahturthi-fourth)– the remover of obstacles(I know I have a lot of those so definitely need his blessings!).
We started celebrating the festival because my younger brother wanted to be just like his friends during our 3 year stay in Nagpur (a central city in the state of Maharashtra)

We started this wonderful tradition around 15 years back and I started it for my son here in the USA since last year as a tie between the two generations and also something common between him and my brother to talk about..
I sincerely hope that my son carries this forward for many years to come!

So for this year, we made the laddoos(made with wheat flour, clarified butter, sugar or jaggery,nutmeg,cardamom powder and a few poppy seeds)(yeah they are decadent and too good!),did our pooja(worship) everyday and seeked his blessings everyday.
As per my knowledge the one I read as legends, history books in India, my parents and grandparents passed it on to me and the ever popular folklore,this is what Ganesh Chaturthi is all about, Wikipedia sums it all up very well!
Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and rides his favorite mouse wherever he goes.
The public celebration of the festival for ten days was promoted by a Freedom Fighter Lokmanya(lok meaning masses,Manya meaning well respected) Balganadahar Tilak as an effort It also support the local artists and bring all the different classes of the society to celebrate something together.
When I lived in Nagpur we lived near the lane called ChitarOli(meaning a line of artists/artifacts).
My earliest memories of Chitaroli was riding on my bike and using that route to go to school in the 8th grade. I would be fascinated by the way the statues were made. The artists all in a row would just make statues for each and every upcoming festival.
They would have an arrangement of sticks which would be used as the base of the statue and then they would use sand (do not know the type of it) and start making figures. Every day you pass the place and you could see the statues being transformed from just a blob of mud into something just spectacular. It was truly a very exhilarating experience to see it and as I am writing about this after a very long time, I can still recollect very distinctly the way everything looked. I actually think of it every Ganesh festival because we used to go buy Ganesha statues from there for our own celebrations and also the small mouse idols they would make especially for the festival.
My dad had explained me that they used all the Panch Mahabhoot (five elements of nature) while making those statues:
Jal(water) – to mix the clay and then in the end the statue would be immersed in water.
Prithvi (earth) – the clay itself
Agni (fire) - the statues were left out in the sun to dry and that would represent fire(Nagpur is known for its extreme temperatures)
Vayu (wind/air) –the wind/air would also help the statues dry and the paint had to be air dried
Aakash (space) - the symbolic meaning that it started from nothing and went into nothing.
Interesting how a lot of the eco-conscious ways of practicing art was prevalent since a long time though I do know that now due to excessive commercialization a lot of the artists use Plaster of Paris which is not as easily bio degradable as just mud/clay.
On the final day of Anant Chaturthi(meaning the fourteenth day) we went to the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple to immerse our idol which if in India we would have done it in a lake, pond,sea, river,ocean...
Here at the temple we saw hundreds of idols ready for immersion and it was very touching on a spiritual level.

1 comment:

mani said...

Hey Rachna, great blog!! very informative too :)