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Happy Birthday Lord Ganesh!

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The elephant-headed god, Ganesh, is much revered among Hindus and is a popular and easily recognized figure throughout the world.  Ganesh is the son of the god Shiva and his wife Parvati.

Ganesh is worshipped by Hindus for his ability to remove obstacles from one’s life and bring good fortune.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a joyous eleven day festival celebrating the birthday of Ganesh and takes place on the fourth day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada.  This usually occurs in late August or early September.  This year the festival culminates on August 29.  While the birthday of Ganesh is celebrated all over India, Ganesh Chaturthi is an especially important festival in western and south India.  The city of Mumbai is one of the best places to experience the joyous celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi.
For weeks, and sometimes months prior to this holiday, artisans work hard to create statues of Lord Ganesh from wood, clay or papier mache.  These statues come in all different sizes, from a few inches to twenty feet in height.  They are elaborately decorated with paint, fabric, paste jewels and flowers. Communities compete to create the largest and best statues for their places of worship.

On the first day of the festival, the newly made statues are installed in homes, community centers and places of worship with special ceremonies involving prayers, religious songs and chanting.  Offerings of sweets, flowers, rice, coconuts and coins are made to the god.  These rituals and prayers continue to be practiced on each day of the festival.

On the last day of the festival, the statues are paraded through the streets, accompanied by crowds of dancing and singing worshippers and are eventually cast into the nearest large body of water.  When possible, this is the ocean, but it can also be a river, lake or pond. The significance of this immersion is based on the Hindu belief that the universe is in a constant state of flux.  While form inevitably gives way to formlessness; life to death; energy continues indefinitely.  The immersion and subsequent destruction of the statues in water serves as a reminder of this fact.
Mela Artisans wishes everyone good fortune this Ganesh Chaturthi.  May your path through life be trouble free today and always.

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  • Jessica Irias