Getting Ready for Ganesha

Ganesha Shrine Ganesha blessing a...rat hole? Fancy Ganesha at Railroad Commission Office

I couldn’t be in Mumbai at a better time than now, just before the big Ganesha Festival. “Ganeshotsav” is a ten-day festival that starts tomorrow, September 18th. The purpose of the festival is to worship Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god of prosperity.

Bandstands, banners, and lights are going up in every neighborhood around the city. This festival is celebrated throughout India, but is biggest in Mumbai. The initial energy surrounding it feels like a combination of Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve, and the 4th of July in Washington, DC. Thousands of people turn out for event. And, as the new Time Out Mumbai puts it, “peace and quiet are banished for ten days.”

Traffic is supposed to be horrible, too. The point of the festival is the submersion of idols of Ganesha in the sea. Submersions are staggered, happening one-and-a-half, five, seven, and ten days after the beginning of the festival, and are preceded by parades and revelry in the streets. The big submersions happen on Chowpatty Beach, and it’s supposed to be unbearably crowded near there for the next week.

At this time, I know very little else about the Ganesha Festival, but I will certainly keep track of it starting this weekend. I’m definitely keen on finding my own little Ganesha idol, so I may go on a quest for that later today. Gotta get in the spirit, you know?