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. Hari (#3):

    Its a shame that Bal Gangadhar used the festival both as a nationalistic movement, as well as to forment Hindu / Mulsim disunity.

    Almost a century later, the VHP is using Ganesh Chaturthi in much the same way in Tamil Nadu. I wrote about it here.

    So Amitabh, while I agree very much with your sentiments (#18) and think that cursious’s comment (#9) was just silly, this particular festival has already been politicized in Tamil Nadu (violently, at times).

  2. Anna, so you like kozhukkattai? You go moLey!!

    PiLLaiyaar is more like Who you dude?! Ganesh as the remover of obstacles is the first one to be pleased before any puja or project. He is also very easy to please and it takes next to nothing to conduct a Ganesh Puja. In Tamizh Naadu that means errukkampoo, a nondescript xerophyte that grows all over the place, a few blades of grass, a few pebbles, some nel pori, a banana, with a murti made of unbaked clay. When we were children at home, Ganesh Puja aka PiLLaiyaar Chaturti meant we each got a small clay murti with a tiny umbrella and a 5 paisa coin to be placed on PiLLayar’s pot belly. And we got to do the visarjan in the well in the backyard. There are some very grand PiLLaiyaar Kovils in the South. There is the Auto Vinayaka gudi on Kasturba Road, Bangalore, which has been around for decades, and is the favorite of many a first time care/auto/two-wheeler buyer. There is the Kadala Neendina PiLLaiyaar Kovil in Pondicherry, and many others.

    There is a PiLLaiyaar sannadhi on the way up the hill to Tirumala. It is the done thing to stop by on one’s way up the hill to PiLLaiyaar’s uncle’s place. Similarly in Pittsburgh at the SV Temple, within the mandir, as you walk up the steps on the first landing before you turn right and up, there is the Ganesh sannadhi.

    The Tirupati laddoo is exquisite but very dear and keeps shrinking every year. It’s made with jaggery, all sorts of spices, kalkandu, and dry fruits. A few morsels are enough, it’s the taste one never forgets.

  3. Motichoor laddoos are the way to go – boondis soaked in sugar syrup and then amalgamated into a mass for easier consumption – yum… Never had the Tirupati laddoo but have had to endure a few sand laddoos

  4. mmm laddu. once (like, YEARS ago) someone gave us a box of white, powdery laddus that i still dream about. according to my mother, they are rava laddus. i’ve never been able to find them anywhere in the U.S. so i suggested to my mother that we visit tirupati sometime soon, they’re that exquisite.

  5. Do people in India make Tamarind Balls, (fresh Tamarind paste and raw sugar rolled into a ball) or maybe there is another name for it ?

  6. I have to say to all my Iyengars that Ganesh/Ganpathi/Vinayaka is probably my favorite just because he does have that universal appeal in what he symbolizes.

    Ganesh is my favorite God and I have a special relationship with him- which causes some minor raised eyebrows on the Iyengar side of the family.I have a collection of around 30 Ganeshas made of different materials that I have been collecting for more than 20 years.Everyone who knows me knows that the best gift for Runa is a Ganapati – the smaller the better! I have them in in glass, metals, stone ,ceramic, marble,semi precious stones,plastic and one in cloth!

    We went to the Mandir today and I prayed for peace and health to my favorite Ganapati Bappa.I wish I could be in Mumbai now and visit the Siddhivinayak mandir.I will never forget standing outside the Mandir at 4:30 am on Tuesdays and singing Aarti with the others waiting to get in! Siddhivinayak prasad is Modak shaped pedha which I prefer to laddus .Along with boondi, besan, rawa did we cover motichoor laddus? And Maharahstrians will know of dinkachi laddu - served to nursing moms…

  7. me:he’s associated with my second favorite childhoold breakfast: kozhakottai! pingpong: First question: what was the first? Idiyappam. :) With sugar and coconut, nothing more. Sorry I missed the question earlier!

    So is Neyyappam now at #3, Anna? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

  8. I was trying to be funny/cynical in #9, Brothers and Sisters. Please forgive.

    My [too subtle and well meaning] comment was for Anna, who in a previous post [Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu AKA Mother Teresa vs. Jesus Christ AKA Son of God] had expressed displeasure with the fact that non-Christians were discussing matters Christ.

  9. “Do people in India make Tamarind Balls, (fresh Tamarind paste and raw sugar rolled into a ball) or maybe there is another name for it ?”

    i’ve bought some in an indian store in the u.s. – but they were made in thailand. but the best are west indian ones. can’t remember buying any in india but made them at home.

  10. Chachaji: So is Neyyappam now at #3, Anna? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

    Neyyappam was never for breakfast at my house. :) It’s a snack! :D I’ve been on an Achappam kick, lately.

    Rajesh: “Do people in India make Tamarind Balls, (fresh Tamarind paste and raw sugar rolled into a ball) or maybe there is another name for it ?”

    I thought those were Mexican; they are almost always in hispanic grocery stores.

    ::

    I don’t have a problem with anyone, of any faith, getting in to the nitty gritty of Xtianity– if they know their stuff. I’ve often thanked Razib for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Orthodox church and he’s not Christian. He’s not anything. I was concerned about people who may not know as much, discussing it– for example, I’ve read the Gita, but by no means do I feel like I could speak authoritatively about Hinduism.

    One religious studies class in college five years ago doth not an expert make. Anyway, I don’t care to get in to it with “curisous” (or anyone else– this is a sweet, celebratory thread!), I just wanted to clarify that rather important point. The way it was phrased, made me seem intolerant: “displeasure with the fact that non-Christians were discussing matters Christ”. Etc.

  11. 107 Rajesh Harricharan

    Do people in India make Tamarind Balls, (fresh Tamarind paste and raw sugar rolled into a ball) or maybe there is another name for it ?

    –> I didnt know we(group:Indian, subgroup: tamilian) had it till my dad let me know of its use. He even called it something in tamil which I dont remember. He used to eat it a lot when he was young.

  12. Please read the thread before you

    a) Impersonate another commenter in order to

    b) Accuse or assume anything.

    Please.

    I wrote this upthread.

    WGiiA?: (although in fairness, post #9 should be deleted then to deter off-topic posts:)
    ITA, but when I woke up from my nap, there were already so many responses to it, it was difficult to undo the damage. I understand this issue is huge, just from the number of tips on the News Tab and I wanted to respect that (and those of you who feel so strongly). I tried to deter without deleting. ;)

    I can’t be on this site 24 hours a day. That’s why this is even an issue– but I addressed that in what I quoted above. Please don’t read intentions when they aren’t there. I was trying to be compassionate, I was not attempting to resolve any “drama” regarding Mother Theresa; I read how pained some of you were about the bridge and Ram and I immediately remembered how I felt, just a few weeks ago. That was me putting myself in your Batas, not furtively trying to work out whatever about MT. Stop twisting things around.

    Further comments re: Mother Theresa, religious debates et al = deleted.

    Comments on Ganesha, Ganapati, the festivities, the sweets and how “Ganapati Baba Morya” is a Marathi phrase which according to one of you, was popularized by Bollywood? Totally welcome.

  13. He even called it something in tamil which I dont remember. He used to eat it a lot when he was young.

    What is the tamil name? I cannot for the life of me think of anything that they made at home that even sounds similar.

    And as far as Vinayaka Chaturthi went, my parents always managed to make extra kozhukattai and hide it. Specially the puranam. My brother loved that thing and would keep asking about it for the next couple of days. So mom had to resort to rationing it.

    BTW, besides Vinayaka is any other god associated with sweets like this?

  14. BTW, besides Vinayaka is any other god associated with sweets like this?

    Krishna .When I was young,Krishna Jayanthi was a time of good eats .Besides the mandatory butter and sugar, Mother would create a “pandal” and hang all sorts of delicacies from it. On the night before Krishna Jayanthi, footsteps top the “pandal” would be drawn in kolam to lead the Lord Krishna to the goodies.The next day we were allowed to gorge ourselves…

  15. footsteps top the “pandal” would be drawn in kolam to lead the Lord Krishna to the goodies.

    I always thought that it was an illusion created to show that Krishna had visited and left foot prints.

    BTW isn’t paanagam supposed to be some gods fave drink. Jaggery, Elaichi and water?

  16. BTW isn’t paanagam supposed to be some gods fave drink. Jaggery, Elaichi and water?

    Ram ( who may be imaginary :-) ) ? I remember having paangam on RamNavmi but I could be wrong – anyone?

  17. Going by our logic, shouldn’t Puliogare be Vishnu’s fave food? I know they serve it in almost every Venkatachalapathy temple, plus Iyengars (I know I am supposed to be hating) make the best kind.

  18. I remember having paangam on RamNavmi but I could be wrong – anyone?

    Yes, that’s when I remember having ‘paanak’ too! It goes well at early Springtime, when Ram Navami usually is.

    Gosh, this thread is fantastic for the amazing commonalities across Indian communities that I’m discovering!

  19. There were some ignorant fighting words about Lokmanya Tilak, upthread. I don’t want to see yet another well-meaning Anna post go to hell, so I’ll save it for another day.

    Ganpati Bappa Moraya popularised by B’wood? As a marathi B’wood denizen, I say yes. Quite popular on cricket field as well. Especially when a Mumbai player is on. It gets complicated from here. A Mumbai player is not always Maharashtrian. A Maharashtrian Mumbai player is not always hindu.

    Chachaji, Modak is number one. Puran Poli is fine too, but it’s more of a Holi thing. I was born on Holi. My global aunt network (yay) FedExes PP almost every year.

    Dinkache Ladu (see Runa @108) are kind of desi butterscotch.

  20. Oh these vhp guys, now an atheist needs to remind them that not only the rama setu, everything is god made ? now go, fight for everything.

    Btw My favorite type of modaks : Ukadiche Modak

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

  21. Food ( and sweets in particular ) are very very important part of celebrating gods ..

    Pullaiyar of course with kozhakatti ( there is also ‘kara’ ( as in not sweet ) version of the same – ‘Uppu Kozhakattai’. I am not sure if ganesha liked it , but increasing diabetes in india would have forced the population to deviate ! )

    Rama Navami – Panagam and Neer Moru ( there is nothing more refreshing than neer moru after playing in the streets in hot sun )

    Krisha Jayanthi – Oh the list is endless :) … i love sedai ..

    Is Chakarai Pongal for Vishnu ?

    Shiva – Thiruvadhurai Kali

    What about the goddess’s – can anybody recollect any favorite sweets / food for the them ? I can think only of dudes and their food ?

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

    Vishal, You ain’t lived till you have tasted the Southie version of Anarse called Athirasam. Food of the Gods!

  23. HNI @ 129

    I think most of the women like payasam prepared with rice and/or chakara pongal. Oh yes, and how can I forget? On Varalakshmi Vratam, we make poornam boorelu (kind of like a deep fried kozhukatti. Anna, I think you would love these.)

    We had a blow-out ganesh chaturthi celebration at our house, with undralu, payasam, rava kesari, vada, pulihodrai, and beans koora. We always learned that the zoommorphic one likes green beans and thier subcontinental cousins.

  24. My global aunt network (yay) FedExes PP almost every year.

    Shodan-kaka, glad to see you made it to this thread, you were missed over the weekend. Hope you and yours had a great Ganesh Chaturthi!

  25. Shodan-kaka, glad to see you made it to this thread, you were missed over the weekend. Hope you and yours had a great Ganesh Chaturthi!

    My thoughts exactly and approximately. :)

  26. Iyengars (I know I am supposed to be hating) make the best kind.

    You can’t hate when you know it’s true…hahaha. I kid, i kid. I know someone mentioned the ladoos in Tirupati, but has anyone had the amazing thair sadam (yogurt rice) there? I havent been in a long time, but I still remember LOVING it. I’m not sure if it was only good because of the very long walk up that we had just done or if it actually is that tasty.

    Since we are talking sweets, my absolute fave has to be semia payasam (kheer) served cold.

  27. Since we are talking sweets, my absolute fave has to be semia payasam (kheer) served cold.

    MINE, TOO! Hence my lowe for Amma’s. :) Even MY Amma refuses to serve it cold. ;)

  28. Is anyone on this thread in bombay now? Please send pics of all the big neighborhood statues if you can! It would be interesting to see again…

  29. Is it sad that I have dreamed about a soda machine-esque thing that dispenses cold semia payasam (kheer) whenever I feel like it? Would that be too much?

  30. Iyengars (I know I am supposed to be hating) make the best kind

    Karthik, I am sure you meant “Iyengars make are the best kind” and we agree :-)

  31. c’mon, no love for gulab jamun?

    mmm, fried balls of dough covered in syrupy sugary goodness. sigh

    i don’t eat anything but the homemade ones though. the stuff you find in restaurants or at sweet shops are awful (way too hard).

  32. Do people in India make Tamarind Balls, (fresh Tamarind paste and raw sugar rolled into a ball) or maybe there is another name for it ?

    Those belong to SpoorLam’s South Indian cousin.

  33. Ganesh is my favorite God and I have a special relationship with him- which causes some minor raised eyebrows on the Iyengar side of the family.

    Interesting you say that…I’m not sure how we as Iyengars got so into it, not that it even matters how the faith comes about, but given the history of Iyengars I have tried to figure this out in the past–apparently it started generations ago. But, I figure since my grandparents/parents and everyone grew up and/or still live in Bombay we all celebrate Ganesh Chaturti and enjoy it.

    So, can someone explain why they think “Ganpathi Bappa Moriya” was popularized by B’wood? Was there a movie?

  34. I am sure you meant “Iyengars make are the best kind” and we agree :-)

    It stems from all the sathumde (rasam) and corumbe (sambhar) we drink and special puligore that we eat;)

    And Runa, Iyegars from Bombay have a double advantage–especially the females..haha!

  35. So, can someone explain why they think “Ganpathi Bappa Moriya” was popularized by B’wood? Was there a movie?

    I think their point was more along the lines of, “that’s not a universal saying”, with regards to my decision to commence this post with “Ganapati Bappa Moriya”. The idea being that neither someone in Nepal nor Karnataka would say “GBM”. Apparently, the only reason the phrase is known outside of Maharashtra is because of fillums. Or so one of you told me. :)

    I eagerly await Shodan-san’s spare, elegant explanation/correction. ;)

  36. man, i missed a lot of food talk…

    Even MY Amma refuses to serve it cold. ;)

    ANNA, have you had badam kheer? it’s milk with saffron, cardamom and ground almonds – and it’s served cold. super-yummy (and my favourite thing to get at woodlands drive-in in madras)

    has anybody heard the kozhkattai story about the man who eats kozhkattai at his aunt’s house and asks his wife to make it? for those who haven’t, it goes something like this : a man goes to his wife’s house and eats kozhkattai for the first time. he is so impressed with it, he asks for its name, and repeats it all the way home to tell his wife. on the way, he bumps into a tree and yells ‘aiyyo!’ ‘aiyyo’ now ‘replaces’ kozhkattai and he arrives home to ask his wife to make ‘aiyyo’ for him. when she says she has no idea how to make it, he starts bearing her. he beats her for the whole night until the next morning their neighbour sees her and says she is swollen like a kozhkattai. and then he remembers. i first heard this in my tamil class (i think it’s from the ettuthokai literature) and was horrified, though my male chauvinist teacher insisted it was the only story to highlight the grammar we were learning at the time. crazy!

    last night, my first night at my new apartment in a heavly desi populated area, i heard shouting outside. my brother asked what it was, and i finally caught what they were saying : ganpati bappa morya! i looked out the window and they were doing the visarjan (immersion of the ganpati idol). my brother was not amused, but i found it quite nice :)

  37. Ganesh is my favorite God and I have a special relationship with him- which causes some minor raised eyebrows on the Iyengar side of the family.I have a collection of around 30 Ganeshas made of different materials that I have been collecting for more than 20 years

    i’m not religious at all, but i do have a soft spot for pillaiyar. as a kid, i used to talk to the statue in our foyer – sort of like my imaginary friend:) 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…

  38. has anybody heard the kozhkattai story about the man who eats kozhkattai at his aunt’s house and asks his wife to make it?

    ak, I remember hearing this one ! Was it also a Tenali Raman story ?

  39. and my favourite thing to get at woodlands drive-in in madras)

    ah, badam kheer at drive-in is a cherished childhood memory.

  40. but has anyone had the amazing thair sadam (yogurt rice) there? I havent been in a long time, but I still remember LOVING it. I’m not sure if it was only good because of the very long walk up that we had just done or if it actually is that tasty.

    How can I not comment when tahyir sadam is discussed…. Thachi mamu ( thayir sadam – yogurt rice) is tasty in thirupathi , because it is GOOD and also because of the long walk up there….

    But then this thread is about God and Food. Trying to link Thayir sadham with gods , my Patti ( grand mother ) used to tell me , Hanuman loved thachi mamu and Vennai so much that it is his fav food too. But because hanuman was way tooooooo hairy , the salt in the curd rice wasn’t a pleasant experience for him and so we used to make thachi mamu with no salt during Hanumath Jayanthi. Does anyone know if Hanuman had a favorite sweet ?

  41. Since Shodan has nt stepped up yet, allow this Puneri to explain

    The word “morya” in Ganpati Bappa Morya refers to a famous devotee of Lord Ganesh in the fourteenth century called Morya Gosavi, from Chinchvad, near Pune. His name is chanted along with Ganpati Bappa ( Bappa = father) to depict the inseparable relationship between Ganesh and his devotee. The Morya Ganpati temple at Morgaon, chinchwad is one of the Famous AshtaVinayak temples in Maharashtra.