Ganpati Bappa Moraya!
Pudhchya varshi lavkar ya!
The god of beginnings and the eradicator of obstacles, Lord Ganesha, is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies.
By – Nandini
How did you celebrate Ganpati Festival this time? Did you pay a visit to these Ashta Vinayak’s of Sydney!
Can you imagine how difficult it is to settle in a completely new place, devoid of friends and known faces! Now imagine that you have a festival coming up, but have no one to celebrate it with. Won’t you be homesick and lonely?
Sydney, like any other city, outside of India, celebrates the Ganpati festival with great pomp and gaiety every year. This year was no different either. The celebrations serve as a water hole for fellow Indians to meet, interact, worship and celebrate the great God of knowledge.
Ashta Vinayaks of Sydney – Visit the Bappa
We are covering the major Ganapati celebrations, the Ashta Vinayaks in Sydney, which will be of use next year.
Ashta Vinayak, a Sanskrit word, literally means eight Ganeshas. Many back home do the Ashta Vinayak yatra, involving visiting eight swayambhu (formed by nature and not sculpted) Ganpatis across temples in Maharashtra in a pre-determined sequence. You could do the same thing next year in Sydney!
Western Sydney Ganesh Festival
By far the most famous celebration in Sydney and organized by the Western Sydney Ganeshotsav, this Ganpati is known for its beautiful theme-based decorations and joie de vivre. Celebrations commenced on Ganesh Chaturthi and ended on Ananta Chaturdashi and included a lively dhol-taasha procession, a ritualistic Satyanarayan Pooja. Daily aartis and prasad, Atharvasheersha pathan, cultural programs and fun-filled evenings continued till Ganpati Visarjan.
This year’s celebrations were even more special as the celebrations entered its tenth year. Western Sydney Ganeshotsav surrounded this year’s Ganpati with Vishnu’s Dashavatars.
MASI is short for Marathi Association Sydney Inc. The Association has been celebrating Ganesh Festival since the eighties. What was once a small get together in Shri Mandir in Sydney, is now an event attended by many. Celebrations regularly included a small Pooja, followed by the traditional Aarti and Prasad lunch on the first Sunday of Ganesh Utsav.
“Our Prasad Bhojan normally consists of a simple and fuss-free menu. Maharashtrian delicacies, such as masale bhat, koshimbir, lonche (pickle), matar usal and mathha are prepared by our volunteers,” explains Sharad Kanitkar from MASI.
Like every year. MASI conducted the traditional Hartalika Pooja at the venue. This coincided with the Ganpati festival. However, there is no Visarjan as there is no pratistapana.
Marathi Katta Ganpati
Marathi Katta too celebrated Ganpati Festival with much splendor and joy this year. The group organized its festivities at the Shiva Mandir in Minto. The celebrations lasted up to 10 days this year.
Friends of India
Friends of India is a well-established organization from Liverpool. This year, celebrations took place at the Whitlam Centre in Liverpool. The event started as a modest Ganapati Habba in 1995, which had brought together a small group of devotees for a Ganesh Moorti sthapana in one of the homes. Today, the Friends of India Ganpati Festival is attended by as many as 6000 worshipers.
Ganpati Festival at Sri Venkatesawara Temple, Helensburgh
Sri Venkatesawara Temple popularly known as Helensburgh Mandir celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi with an elaborate Pooja. The pooja consists of a traditional Homam, the avahanams, an abhisek, the aarti, maha rudram, dressing up the Lord Ganesha in all finery and the Aradhana. The temple is more popular for its Visarjan celebrations than anything else.
Here, the Ganpati Visarjan is an elaborate event attended by Aussies and Indian alike. Last year around 18,000 people attended the event and this year the numbers were even higher. There was the customary procession, a pradakshina around the temple, following which the clay Ganpati idol was taken to Stanwell beach for immersion.
There are three more Ganpati festivals in Sydney worth a visit. The Telugu Sandadi Ganpati – Paramatta, Sydney Murugan Temple and Sri Karphaga Vinayakar Temple celebrations.
These organizations have websites and social media pages. They celebrate the festival with the twin objective of getting as many Indians together on a single platform and helping a variety of causes back home or in Australia.
Benevolence of Ganesha Reaches the Needy
Western Sydney Ganeshotsav has been actively supporting farmers in Maharashtra. “Last year, we collected and donated to the NAAM Foundation in India,” informs Uday Kulkarni from the organization. “NAAM helps the drought affected, distressed and needy farmers in Maharashtra. We are planning similar initiatives in coming years.”
Friends of India have been coordinating the CleanUp Australia Day for many years now. It recently has launched the Health Professional Network to provide a supportive and advisory response to health queries. Last year, it organized a blood donation drive through the Health Professional Network.
So, if you are still feeling homesick and memories of the Ganpati dance, dhol and modaks is making you weep, then just head to any or all of these venues to get your dose of Bappa next year!
Celebrations at Home in Sydney
By – Ashwini Navare
Known as ‘Sahastranaama’ or ‘the one with a thousand names,’ Lord Ganapati is also known as Herambha, Lambodara , Vighnaharta, Ekadanta, Vighneshwar and Ganaraja.
How Ganesha Festivities Originated
Ganesha festival is celebrated since the era of Shivaji Maharaj (founder of Maratha Empire). The Peshawar encouraged the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi, their family god (Kuldevata). With the fall of Peshawar, Ganesha festivities lost the state patronage and became a private family celebration in Maharashtra until its revival by freedom fighter and social reformer, Lokmanya Tilak. Tilak started the community participation and involvement in the forms of intellectual discourse, poetry recitals, plays, concerts and folk dances during Ganesh Chaturthi.
Keeping the Traditions Alive in Sydney
Miles away from home with only memories of Ganapati celebrations at home, Indians in Sydney recreate the warmth of the Ganapathy festival in their homes. Creating the same ambience of their homeland, families bring in Lord Ganesha into their house following the age-old traditions. People come together to seek blessings from the Vighnaharta. It is a beautiful occasion to meet your family and friends and introduce this culture to other communities.
The Indian Telegraph met up with a few of the Indian families settled in Sydney and took part in their festivities. We spoke to them about how they replicate the festive spirit here in the city that keeps them connected to their roots.
Manisha and Amit Bhisekar
The Bhisekars are from Mumbai, India and have been celebrating the Ganesha festival since the last 7 years. This is their 2nd year in Sydney. “We keep the idol for five days. On this auspicious day, we prepare Ganesha’s favourite food, ukdiche modak (rice flour with coconut delicacy), rava ladoo and authentic Maharashtrian cuisine”. Every morning and evening, aartis are performed. They perform Atharvshirsh Stotra chanting 21 times on one of the days. This year they got many friends who joined in for the chanting.
She resides near Helens Burgh and brings her Ganesha Idol from the temple. They have Ganesh celebrations for three days. They offer prasad like fruits, kesari, sweet pongal, laddoo, tamarind rice (called as puliyogare), modak (referred to as undrallu) bobbatlu / pooranpoli and Ganesh harthi. In an eco-friendly manner, they do Ganesh visarjan in a bucket of water and pour the sacred water to the plants in her garden. A great example of recycling and keeping the presence of Ganesha at home.
Mamta and Manoj Bhide
The Bhide family have been been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in Sydney for last 4 years. They get a ‘Panchdhatu‘ murti from India and do pran pratishtha in it every year. They celebrate with idols of Ganapati and Gauri. However, Gauri is in the form of 7 small stones which are worshipped as Goddess Gauri. Their sons eagerly look forward to this Ganesha festival and help in decorating. For prasad Mamta made khajoor (dates) and dry fruit laddoos. Being eco-conscious, they do Ganapati visarjan in a bucket of water. They immerse it in the water for some time. Then they clean it and pack it away till next year to create a new Ganapati.
Poornima and Shashank Deshpande
In The Ponds, Shashank Deshpande has been making the Ganesha murti for the last ten years with biodegradable material. This year, he created a Ganesha idol playing Mridang (a form of percussion instrument) as he is a tabla player himself. Along with Ganapati, they also have Gauri pooja at their house. They do panchpakwana for Gauri pooja where Poornima makes five different sweets. They do Ganpati visarjan in a bucket of water.
Making of the Ganeshas Clay Idols for Sydney
By – Vish Vishwanathan
Lord Ganesh is loved by everybody. The growing Indian community in Sydney celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi in many ways.
The South Indian community worship with the Ganesh Clay Idols. Keeping up with this tradition since last eight years volunteers from Global Organisation for Divinity Australia (G.O.D.) group have been making 200 Ganesh Idols using clay and moulds brought from India for the Ganesh worshippers in Sydney. “GOD Divinity” is a socio-religious movement founded by Sri Muralidhar Swamiji in Chennai many years ago and spreading community harmony through chanting ” Hare Rama” Bhajan.
“It takes 45 minutes for making one idol,” said one volunteer. Each year it is a festive atmosphere in making these Ganesh Idols for distribution with many families joining together. Watching them making the Ganesh Idols itself was a delight.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia