The God for Everyman

Ganesha_Nurpur_miniature_circa_1810

Ganapati Bappa Morya:

An important festival honours Ganesha for ten days starting with Ganesh Chaturthi, typically in late August or early September. This festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi when images (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water.
Hindus celebrate the Ganapati festival with great devotional fervour. While it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra, it is performed all over India. The festival assumes huge proportions in Mumbai and in surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples. On the last day of the festival, millions of people of all ages descend onto the streets leading up to the sea, dancing and singing to the rhythmic accompaniment of drums and cymbals.
In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so “to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them” in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Thus, Tilak chose Ganesha as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule because of Ganesha’s wide appeal as “the god for Everyman.” Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day.[wiki]

So…one could say that Ganapati was quite mutinous. :) Extra celebrating is in order, I think. What are you doing today? Over the past three years, I’ve found that when some of you describe childhood memories of holidays which were important in your family, it’s as sweet as this. Speaking of sweet, eat a ladoo for me, would you? Thanks.

172 thoughts on “The God for Everyman

  1. when i was in elementary school, my class took a field trip to our house, and one of my classmates counted 50+ ganpati statues and paintings…

    a field trip to your house? how did that come about? also.. 50+ ?? wow. (your house musta been like, real big)

  2. a field trip to your house? how did that come about? also.. 50+ ?? wow. (your house musta been like, real big)

    my teacher was this huge indophile – she used to come over just so that she would get to eat desi food. so she did this whole week on india, and part of it included the field trip, since my parents have so much art from india (i call their house the south indian museum of long island, and i have to beg my mom not to add anymore thanjavur paintings). it was pretty cool, actually. but no, our house really isn’t that big – it’s just that my mom crams in stuff into every little corner.

  3. ah. i had an indophile teacher in high school who, while showing us slides of the statues found in ancient hindu temples, described the culture as “a very vibrant, lively culture. indians are a very loose people.” my friend and i were giggling in the back of the room, which led to some people sitting right in front of the teacher to start cracking up, so then the teacher stopping the class to ask me if i was hindu. then for the rest of the year she would ‘quiz’ me on my knowledge of hinduism. another such awkward moment was when she asked me if i knew ‘what krishna did with the gopikas.’ “um, he flirted with them?” “oh he did a lot more than flirt with them!” and then the class cracks up.

  4. oh and there was this crazy old substitute in my high school who once stopped me in the hallway to tell me, “my husband and i are fans of indian art, and we were just talking (he worked there too) about how beautiful you are, you look just like the indian women shown in those classic paintings, so blah blah blah exotic blah blah blah…” then she walked away in her mumu. (it was wintertime. i told you she was crazy)

  5. Western Ghaat is right. A Puneri is always right about such things :)

    Apparently, the only reason the phrase is known outside of Maharashtra is because of fillums.

    Ganpati was kuladaivat (family deity) of Peshwas. It may have spread GBM to other parts of Maratha empire. I think Bollywood, that other big empire, probably had a bigger hand in popularising the phrase (link). Some classic cheese there. Don’t miss Takkar. Hidden treasure in Ganesha’s belly.

    Thanks Chachaji (132) and Anna (133). We are having a blast.

    More historical trivia: According eminent historian V K Rajwade, Ganesh festival was celebrated in Satwahana, Rashtrakuta and Chalukya period.

  6. Tamarind sweets – Well, I could not think of anything other than pulippu mittai which matched the description of sweets with tamarind. The pulippu mittai is IIRC made by dissolving sugar or jaggery in very thick tamarind extract (usually colored orange) and letting it solidify into hard sour candy, like hard spheres. It does not have the tamarind fibers but has all the sourness to justify being called “tamarind balls”. The commercial varieties are SO orange that you can’t chew on one for 15 minutes without all the evidence sticking to your tongue and teeth, so your parents know exactly which junk food vendor you visited on your way home from school.

    Paalakado – Not me personally, but I like Michael Madhana Kamarajan. Kamal Hasan pulls off a perfect Palakkad in that movie.

    Semia payasam – count my warm support for cold semia payasam. With chopped cashews. I like that so much that I have it straight, without gongura pickle.

    Hanuman – Hanuman likes a lot of butter, especially slightly rancid butter, but not a major sweet fan AFAIK. Maybe Hanuman is on Atkins or something. But you can always make a rava kesari – safe sweet for any occasion.

  7. But i always have to wait till deepawali for this : Anarse

    Could we PLEASE find an alternative spelling for that? I swear the first time I read it as “an arse”. The wait till deepavali only heightened the anticipation factor. :D

    “Anarsay” maybe? Or “Anarsas”?

  8. indians are a very loose people

    i wish it were so…some indophiles are grating, esp. if there is excessive use and conception of ‘exotic.’ though others have a very interesting approach towards their love of desi things – when i did a summer abroad, i think it was made so much better because i was viewing things through their eyes…btw your substitute teacher sounds awesome! a mumu in winter – there’s not much else one can say about that…

    runa – i don’t know if it was a tenali raman story – i was so mortified by that story that i didn’t bother to delve beyond. one of my family friends was in the class, and when i repeated the whole episode to his family with an excessive amount of indignance, it became this huge joke of ak = kozhkattai.

  9. when i did a summer abroad, i think it was made so much better because i was viewing things through their eyes…btw your substitute teacher sounds awesome! a mumu in winter – there’s not much else one can say about that…

    you did a summer abroad in india? or do you mean being in a different country/culture in general? (where?)

    the substitute teacher thing really freaked me out at the time because i was like, 15, and she and her husband are the ‘eccentric’ ‘crotchety’ types. and it was just so random!

  10. A bit of mythology/superstition… (this came from my grandmother so I don’t know the accuracy but it’s the story I was told as a kid). When they were looking for a head for Ganesh, the one rule they had to follow was to not take another child from a mother but if they found a mother sleeping with her child with her back to the child, then they could take the child’s head. The only mother they found sleeping with her back to her child was an elephant so they took her child’s head. Not sure if it’s written anywhere or just a superstition to promote better parenting…

  11. Does anyone know if Hanuman had a favorite sweet ?

    i don’t know about sweets, but a popular offering i’ve seen is a garland of vadas (called vadamalai, in tamil). but it is not the usual vada, but a completely flat, crisp (usually misfires and ends up being hard) disc with a hole in the center for convenient threading into a garland.

  12. Pinda USA, much respect for your numerous postings, but I think you missed the point of my posting. A lot of the stories we hear about hinduism are deeply rooted in superstition. Could we not argue that all of this does not serve the pupose of providing a moral compass which is not necessarily a bad thing? I could recommend a whole discussion on the practical application of all the hindu/beliefs/superstitions. When it comes to my upbringing, my father always tried to show the practical wisdom of some of these superstitions. I’ll give a slight example. My father said that when a wedding is happening, the night before the wedding, the groom is not allowed to go anywhere, travel anywhere, or leave the house. He gave me stories about his wedding in 1969 as practical examples. Now, when the Sean Bell massacre happened in NYC, where I live, I was appalled, but also, I thought about the wisdom of what my father told me. I am just saying that although we view all these rituals as archaic/outdated, my dad told me that in the end there are some practical reasons to follow them.

  13. Actually im from the south, and they celebrate ganesh chaturthi quite splendidly with really big ganesha idols on palonquins and this procession and pujas and everything at home. Best Part= New Clothes :]+ Sweets&Farsan

    Lol…My mom says you are supposed to include your books in the puja to ensure that you get good grades and knowledge and blah blah blah, and you have to leave them at the alter/mandiram the whole 10 days and in high school leave my ALL SAT BOOKS there so my parents didnt make me do them for 10 days :D

  14. My mom says you are supposed to include your books in the puja to ensure that you get good grades and knowledge and blah blah blah, and you have to leave them at the alter/mandiram the whole 10 days and in high school leave my ALL SAT BOOKS there so my parents didnt make me do them for 10 days :D

    Adorable. And exactly the sort of anecdote I was hoping for, when I posted this. :)

  15. Best Part= New Clothes :]+ Sweets&Farsan

    This was the case for Diwali, well as long as I was a kid. The minute my parents figured that I could wear a dothi, I started getting dothies for Diwali.

    Lol…My mom says you are supposed to include your books in the puja to ensure that you get good grades and knowledge and blah blah blah, and you have to leave them at the alter/mandiram the whole 10 days and in high school leave my ALL SAT BOOKS there so my parents didnt make me do them for 10 days :D

    And this was for Saraswathi pooja. I remember that we could not touch the books for a day.

  16. Lol…My mom says you are supposed to include your books in the puja to ensure that you get good grades and knowledge and blah blah blah, and you have to leave them at the alter/mandiram the whole 10 days and in high school leave my ALL SAT BOOKS there so my parents didnt make me do them for 10 days :D

    this year I wanted to include a copy of Lucky Magazine, but my mom was all, “Vat? Don’t you think you should put an MCAT book instead?” (I didn’t mean to trivialize the holiday, she just said to pick any 2 books that have special meaning to me. And without getting into a lot of personal bull$hit, i can’t quite explain why a fashion mag has that much meaning to me, but it does).

  17. When I went to India, the festival i loved the most was Diwali. I didnt give a crap about the lights or sweets. I loved it because you could blow up stuff without government regulation. Explosives in tins. In Andhra, they had these things called Hawai Sawai. These were pretty much rockets without the little fuse and were tied to a flexible stick instead of the rigid stick rockets are attached to. You had to pinch the paper out from the bottom of these rockets and then light the powder directly(the powder would not fall out as it was tightly packed). Then you would have to time it properly to throw it and get the maximum distance out of it. The most popular use was throwing these Hawai Sawais at friends in mock fights. A lot of accidents, as you can imagine.

    I liked Bhogi too which I think was either during Sankranti or Ugadi. I forget. You just set up a hugeass bonfire.

    I find Diwali celebrations boring in the U.S. Indian community.

  18. family is tamil and as long as i can remember charthurti has been a massive deal. preparations would go on for days…its my favourite religious event anyway. the sweets never stop coming.

    Now THAT sounds like a holiday I can get behind. :)

  19. 20 days !

    You guys were sure lucky. We got one day without the books for saraswathi pooja ! It was all fine and dandy that day … but the next day , my mom wakes me up @ 4 AM , asks me take head bath and sit in the pooja room and study for 4 hrs continuously !

  20. what happens to u all guys you ppls have no mind to think about the real God, How can you believe that Ganesha is a God Even Shiva is a God, According to Upanisahd, Vedas, Puranas God Has no Pic, Image, idols if u guys are true hindu refer to your actual books and see where u all are standing. Please its an appeal to all my Borthers and Sisters, Dont take it in wrong ways just think on my comments and try to find out truth if u really wants to be in Heaven. Your Brother – Ansari