Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Invited to a Hindu Temple and Ganesha Feast

When a local repairman here in Savusavu phoned Jim to invite us to attend the Ganesha ceremony at the Hindu Temple, we were eager. "Don't eat meat on Saturday or Sunday," Pallay instructed. I thought for sure Jim would balk. I made him Eggplant Parmesan once for dinner and he complained for a month that the meatless meal bordered on starvation. But for Pallay, Jim agreed. This was the last day of the 10 day festival of Ganesha Chaturthi.

Jim and our host and friend, Pallay
I call Pallay a repairman because that's how we met him. Our big alternator gave us grief and fixing it was cheaper than buying a new alternator. But really, Pallay is Jim's friend. He's given Jim a tour of the town and showed him locations where to buy certain things. His rates have been more than fair and he's not charged us more for extra work. He's come to Hotspur several times to diagnose our alternator's behavior.

It was disappointing that on Sunday it rained, but that didn't stop the horde of Hindus from showing up to the small temple to worship. We could hear the bells clanging in town before we walked up the steep, paved road and multi-level steps. We trudged through mud to get to the door.

Men tended a celebratory fire pit outside and we removed our shoes. Women and little girls dressed in their finest saris sat on woven mats on the floor. A narrow path led to the Ganesha. Flower wreaths and food offerings brightened the altar. The second we walked in I began coughing from the rolling clouds of incense. The open windows helped a bit. We paid our respects to the altar by rotating a silver platter with candles, incense and marigolds around the deity several times and took a seat in the back on the floor.

Ganesha paraded through town
How these old women could sit cross-legged for hours on the hard cement was unfathomable. My legs began to buzz with numbness and I shifted uncomfortably. It took my mind off it when the boys on a stage began singing, playing the harmonium, drums and cymbals. Women got up and danced, long costume earrings and bangles jangling with their hip shakes. Some threw rice at the Ganesha. It was hard not to jump up and join the dancing women, but my daughter's "don't do it" glare kept  me rooted to the hard, uncomfortable floor.

Pallay escorted us outdoors a couple hours later where we were served food. The men served sweets like rice pudding and groundnut laddoos (a crumbly cookie). There was also a pasty, sweet dish with raisins and coconut. Everyone ate with their hands. Later we had lunch, a vegetarian delight.

Strong men loaded the Ganesha on a palanquin and the crowd followed him through town. Colored powders in pink, blue, green and orange were tossed into the mass of colorful people or rubbed on faces, hair and clothing.  People danced in the streets, sang and chanted. MORYA! It was quite the spectacle as Ganesha was taken to the ocean and released into the water, taking the misfortunes of mankind with him.

No comments:

Post a Comment