I went on Google with my mom today, and we searched ‘land of festivals’. Believe it or not, every single link on the first page had something to do with India, except for one somewhere in the middle there about Wisconsin. And though you might really want to hear all about Wisconsin, I’m going to tell you about India instead, and (if you hadn’t already figured it out yet), India is also known as Land of Festivals (sorry Wisconsin).
Yes, India is the land of Festivals. For every type of occasion, India is filled with great celebration, a splash of color, and dancing, and singing and rituals! Here we celebrate everything, from the harvesting of crops, to the birthdays of gods and goddesses.
Today, we celebrate Pillayar Chaturthi, which is also known as Ganesh Chaturthi and Vinayaka Chaturthi. Pillayar is the god of Wisdom. There are many stories of how wise he is, and also many stories as to how he had gotten his elephant head. The story that I’ve heard is this one: Pillayar’s mother was taking a bath, and told him to guard the door, and not let anyone in. Then, Lord Shiva (Pillayar’s father) had wanted to go inside, and since Pillayar didn’t let him, Shiva was enraged at him. Lord Shiva cut off his son’s head. After his anger subsided, Shiva felt immensely bad about what he had done, so he found an elephant head and attached it to Ganesh instead. Thus, Ganesh has an elephant head. The celebration of Vinayaka Chaturthi is on Ganesh’s birthday. Well, what do we do on that day? Here’s me explaining it to you through my own experience:
The day before Vinayaka Chaturthi, we went down to Mylapore to do some shopping. Mylapore is the part of Chennai where my mom grew up as a kid. It has a really big temple and a kulam (a small man made lake) next to it. Around the kulam there are many street-side shops with fruit stands and people selling fake jewelery and all kind of things. Whenever there is any kind of festival, the shops on the street sell statues, and other things for the Pooja (a pooja is when you pray and offer to god). One of the things on our shopping list that day was clay. The clay was for making our own Pillayar statues for the celebration. Really, the clay was just mud. Thats right! We played with mud for half of the day on Friday! And with the mud, Bharat and I (my mom chose to video tape) created awesome Pillayar statues of our own. But back to Mylapore, when we were there it was unbelievable! Buzzing with people! There were so many stands on the street side selling ready made mud Pillayar statues, clay, and small paper and string umbrellas that you set over the statues on the day of the celebration! Also, flowers that you put in your hair, beads, necklaces, and fruits! By the time we left, the streets were getting so crowded with people buying statues that we could barely walk! It was such an experience, and I saw so much thats really new to me here, including a street fight. I have videos, but (unfortunately) I didn’t post them, because my mom says that I should respect the privacy of those having public street fights!
Later, we, as I said earlier, created our own mud Pillayar statues. I’m very proud of mine, it looks so nice! And with these statues, we did the Pooja the next morning, which wasn’t really too much, as it was only the three of us. After that, we all went to the close by small temple. This was my first actual time at that temple in the morning!
Later that day, we were all sitting in the apartment, and we heard loud noises and singing. My mom and I went outside with the video camera to see what it was. Circling the square where the temple is, was a small chariot, pulled by a couple of people, with the idol Ganesh sitting inside. There were so many people following it! The singing and drums and music were so loud, and it was so bright and it had a certain cheerful and happy air to it.
The next day, it was time to take the Pillayar statues that we made into the ocean at the beach. This symbolizes putting Pillayar back into the Earth. There were some boys over at the beach who offered to do it for us, and since they were actually jumping into the deep parts of the water, and we weren’t sure about doing that ourselves, we let them. I have a neat video of them doing it too! Make sure you watch the video everyone, so that you can see for yourself what my Vinayaka Chaturthi was like!
More Soon! Kausi