25 Aug 2009

Ganesh Utsav

I’m not a particularly religious person. I think I lost my ‘faith’ sometime in my mid-teens, oddly enough, during the annual trip to the local temple for the Ganesh Utsav festival.


Now, going to the Ganesh utsav wasn’t always interesting for me, not until I discovered that all the pretty girls for miles around used to come there. (^_^)

But then, as I grew older, I got a bit jaded, since the pundits didn’t really impress me. I think the height of disillusionment came after I asked the pundit who was doing the Ganesh Utsav this question after hearing his ‘sermon’ one night:

“If as you say, God is happy with a gift of flowers or fruit, why then do we have to put money in the aarti?”

I can’t recall his answer after so many years, but suffice to say I realised he was about as ignorant an arse as they come after he gave it. This was proven to me many a year later when he tried giving unsolicited advice to me on my marriage, out of the blue. Needless to say, I told him off in plain language. I tolerate no shit from those who hold themselves as morally superior.

Anyway, back to this post…

The Ganesh Utsav in Ramai Trace, Débé is one of the oldest in the country, if not THE oldest. It is well over 150 years old, which makes it one of those that was started soon after the indentured servants came over from India.

The story of Ganesh is this:

The consort of Lord Shiva, Parvati was home alone, after Lord Shiva stepped out. Wanting to have a bath, and not having the privacy she desired in the house as Lord Shiva was not there to stop intruders, she used the sandalwood paste (some stories say the dirt, some the dirt from her body [the ‘mock’ as we say in Trinidad]) to create a little boy whom she breathe life into.

Arming him, she told him to stop anyone from coming into the dwelling while she was bathing.

When she was bathing, Lord Shiva returned and attempted to enter his home. Since Ganesh was created after he had left, he did not know who Shiva was, and so he stop him from entering. Shiva of course, not known for having a cool temper, became enraged, and a great battle was fought, at the end of which, Shiva parted Ganesh’s head from his body.

Parvati in the meantime (don’t know why she ent hear the fight, must be a serious case of ear wax) finished and came out to see a headless Ganesh on the ground. Her rage transformed her into the mighty Kali, and she threatened the three worlds with total destruction.

To appease her, Shiva sent out his followers (ganas) to bring back the head of the first living creature they could find. They returned with the head of… a baby elephant.

Joining the head to the body of the boy, Shiva then named him Ganesha (meaning chief of the Ganas). Since Parvati (or Kali at this time) wasn’t fully appeased, he also stipulated that Lord Ganesha would be the first of Gods worshiped at the start of any religious devotion, and at the start of new ventures.

There is another interesting tale where Ganesha became the God of Knowledge, but that’s another story…

Incidentally, Lord Shiva is the very first Rastafarian, though I am sure I’ll get some flak for saying that…