Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ganapati bappa morya!

The soft fumes of the black chandan stick perk up the festive atmosphere almost instantly. The twangs and pauses in the priest's nasal assistance for the ceremony on the mp3 file only validate the already pious seeming environment. As the background score progresses, so does my appreciation of the first Hindu festival I have celebrated since I moved overseas. A time that, I am sure, will remain as one of my fond memories.

I can still recall my time in India when I used to celebrate this festival with my family. We would begin by carefully picking up the best possible Ganesha idol from the local market and walk back home, barefoot, with the idol placed cozily on a silver plate peppered with mantrākshata. A special wooden enclosure would be reserved for the event as we'd then cautiously place the idol in the designated spot and get busy with the minutest details of the necessities for the prayer rituals. Draped in a silk sari, mom would spend the day making a several mouth-watering delicacies while we, draped in equally shiny silk dhotis, would help dad with the prayer procedure. The fragrance of incense sticks and the short lived camphor on the mangalārati would fill the air as coconuts would be broken and offerings would be made to Lord Ganesha.

After what would seem like an extremely long wait, lunch would be served. A fresh green banana leaf would be decorated with a dozen different culinary items by mom as we'd be instructed to always begin our meal with the payasam, daal tovve and the koshumbari dishes. Attempting anything otherwise was strictly forbidden. As we'd spend the next half an hour requesting repeated servings of amma's signature dishes, dad would spend the time explaining to us how festivals in India hadn't changed at all since his days as a boy. 'Just another excuse for Brahmins to get fatter bellies!' he would joke as he would help himself to another serving of amma's excellent tamarind rice.

All this, and more, came back to me as I took over the role of priest today. It was a rather interesting experience as, despite not being too religious myself, I did manage to find the same peace and satisfaction as I remember from my days in India. With the timely assistance by my lovely wife (and her various delicious dishes - images below - that spruced up this festive occasion!) we managed to pull off a pretty decent debut of a festival as a married couple in our warm Danish nest away from home. Hopefully this start will usher in further events that we can continue to celebrate so that our familiarity with our roots is maintained as our lives as international citizens continuous to explore new horizons. We certainly look forward to all of them.

[(L-R): Drumstick Sambar, Eggplant kadi, Green chana vegetable, Badam kheer, Cucumber Raita and Vegetable Pitla. There was also carrot koshumbari and coconut-jaggery payasam!]

Wishing everyone a wonderful Gauri Ganesha festival! May Lord Ganesha, in His infinite grace, kindness and wisdom, grant all of us the pink of health and consistent rainbows of success.

2 reflections:

Nona said...

Looks like you had a blast!

ShaK said...


Yes. We had a great time, mate. Wish you had a good festival too.