Unbelievable

This message popped up
Simon and I were part of the team that created an event called Prince’s Seeing is Believing for business representatives from the U.K.
My response
India can be astonishing in so many ways. At precisely the time I’m writing about the first visit of the Seeing is Believing event in Mumbai, to a crèche on a construction site, I get the message from Simon.

We were working for Business in the Community and organising a Prince’s Seeing is Believing event (named after the Prince of Wales) to help leaders realise how their business could be more responsible. In 2006 it included this event, a conference on sustainability organised with the Bombay Chamber at the Taj and a week of workshops for smaller businesses.

We also had a wonderful time falling in love with India and it’s people.

Happy Ganesha Chaturthi

Happy Ganesha Chaturthi

Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya SuuryaKotti Samaprabha

Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa

O Lord Ganesha, of the curved trunk, large body and with the brilliance of a million suns please make all my works free of obstacles, always.

So the big event has arrived. Today is the day. Boys in groups of ever increasing size have been touring the area, for what seems to be weeks, knocking on doors asking for donations to build their shrines.

The traditional potters street in Mysore (see below) sell the many varieties of the terracotta Ganesha. Others sell them on street corners throughout the city.

Our good friend Rob Thomas has taken some great photos of them for sale in Mumbai. I must say that the one’s in Mumbai look great, (maybe its Rob’s photography) they are beautifully painted.

The older boys and men build temporary shelters, with completely over the top decorations, lights leading up the road, colourful Ganeshas and music blasting out of speakers. Its great fun.

It’s not a particularly ancient festival in its current form as it was popularised by a chap called Lokamanya Tilak (there’s a back story there about fighting the British colonials and the development of Hinduvstan) in Mumbai in the late 19th Century.

P1150273So here at home Ganesh is installed in our Pooja Room. We choose to have the simple version with no or natural paints NOT the Plaster of Paris version with paints that damages the environment.

There are a set series of days, with a few different options (this is India) we’re supposed to keep him at home and then immerse him in water. We usually go the ‘whole hog’ and immerse him in the river Kaveri on Srirangaptnam at Paschimavahini (featured on our world famous cycle tours) in five days. This year we’ll delay the immersion to coincide with the arrival of Alex , my niece from the UK and on her second day we’ll give her a ‘right-old’ introduction to India 😉

Our Pooja Room also has a much larger Ganesh, bought cheaply after the festival had ended a few years ago. He was bought to go in the roof garden but he just hangs out here! that’s cool!

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It’s all action

It’s happening at Moksha (meaning salvation) Manor.

They have a saying here in India that there are seven days in a week but eight religious days. Well, I reckon it might be true.

 

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Today is Gowri Habba or Gowri Ganesh or Swarna Gowri Vratam! (Remember in India there is NEVER just one way of doing or saying or understanding things.) It’s the festival day dedicated to Goddess Gowri a form of Goddess Parvati (aka Ganesh’s mother) who on this day visits her devotees. It’s especially important for the ladies. Married women will wish for a happy and peaceful married life, the unmarried will look to get a good husband.

Manjula and I wish you all a Happy Gowri Ganesha

Lucy is objecting to being on the chain, the girls are really active, Manjula is doing Pooja with Ganesh but really Gowri and if you look closely you can just see her in the bottom left. I’ve enlarged it above. The silver containers are posh and new and hold the Sindoor (red vermillion) and Haldi (Tumeric yellow)

It’s the day before one of our most important festivals in Mysore (it’s REALLY REALLY big in Mumbai and pretty big here) Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesh arrives tomorrow. He’s actually already here  but maybe that’s just the English way.

More later…..