Monday, September 24, 2012

How Ganesh Chaturthi started

On Sunday Lex and I went on a walking tour of different Ganesh shrines downtown.  Although I was under the impression that this was a very old cultural/religious celebration, it turns out I was wrong.  The festival itself dates from around the 1890s and was actually a political response to the British!  At that time India was struggling to gain independence, and the British response to this was to ban political gatherings.  The Indian people therefore decided to use the Ganesh festival as a way of getting people together to pass on a political message without raising the suspicions of the British.  Community mandals were therefore set up as an elaborate stage for Lord Ganesh for 10 days.  On the last day a procession would accompany the statues to their final destination, the water, where they would be immersed amid chants and fanfares.  This celebration brought all sections of the community together and provided a way of informing people about the struggle for independence.

Every Ganesh statue is slightly different.  The one above was made out of thousands of dice.  Others are adorned in real jewelry.  Some of them tell different stories about Ganesh's life.  One thing is very obvious, however, the Indian people love Ganesh and are very devote in their worship of him.

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