Sitting at my laptop beginning to write this piece, it’s the seventh day of the 10-day Ganesh Festival (known in Marathi as Ganpati or sometimes spelled Ganapati). I hear singing coming in from outside somewhere, devotees from a nearby pandal that I can’t see from my home, but the music drifts in and reminds me I’m in a foreign country that I don’t totally understand. India is captivating me more and more the longer I stay.
I hear clapping. I hear voices uplifted in praise to a beloved elephant-headed god known as Ganesh, among many other names. Ganesh is the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, and is known as the remover of obstacles. Hindus believe he actually bestows his presence on earth during the Ganapati festival each September/October, which culminates in immersing idols in his likeness into the river, ocean or other water body in an elaborate good-bye ceremony until he comes again the following year. Read more