Feed on:

Ganesh Puja!


Colorful Ganesh Idol

The beginning of a large enterprise requires a Ganesh Puja. The festivities described. (Map this!)

We first started the tradition of hosting Ganesh in 1996 and have had one every single year since with two exceptions. The fact that we do this is somewhat odd since I am a devout atheist and Neena’s religious preference is unstated. But even an atheist has to believe in something and we both believe in wisdom and learning. This happens to be Ganesh’s purview and he is also the patron saint of inaugurations and overcoming obstacles. All these are related – the best way for me to overcome obstacles is to study, learn and be prepared. If I’m not prepared for an obstacle, well, I should have invested in some more wisdom and learning instead of hoping for an elephant shaped Deus Ex Machina!

Over the years many people have tried to educate me as to the meaning of Ganesh and I listen politely. The true meaning, if there is any, is unutterable, apophatic, and silent. This years’ Ganesh puja was quite the opposite of silent – we had almost 50 celebrants gathered at our friends house in the Outer Mission district of San Francisco. All in one place, at one time was a slice of those with whom we had made friendships – old friends who had known us before San Francisco, friends from work, from Italian Class, from the Ski Cabin, and from auto class.

There was pandemonium in the kitchen. The normal schedule we have followed broke down in the face of 50 guests and we ran behind. Luckily for us Lakshmi Albright stepped in and took charge of the preparations and saved the day. The aarthi started close to on time and there was a few minutes of calm during the chants. Madhuri Yechuri followed up the chant with a classical Karnatic rendition of a Ganapati devotional song which was very special to me.

All Photos by Fredrick Gault.

“vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha,
nirvighnam kurumedeva sarvakaryeshu sarvada”

3 Responses to “Ganesh Puja!”

  1. sudhir tamhane says:

    Dear Shreesh & Neena,
    I believe that God is the one who created & maintains the Universe. So whether you call the power that started it all as “The God” or the ” The Big Bang”; here is wishing you a safe & happy adventure of a lifetime.

  2. Ram dada says:

    If you believe that wisdom and learning are Lord Ganesh’s purview, and that He is the divine patron of inaugurations and overcoming obstacles, you’ve taken a few baby steps towards faith in Ganesh already.

    Sometimes despite every completed tick, in one’s checklist of preparation, misfortune haunts one at every step. Then again, on some other times, one becomes the recipient of seemingly undeserved blessings.

    Much lore has been narrated about Shri Ganesh’s powers to facilitate or block our initiatives. He has another role as destroyer of vanity, ego and pride. If someone vainly slights His powers, He might just throw a googly for His own fun.

    Have you heard or read the story of Kubera and Ganesh’s appetite?

    Lord Kubera was treasurer of Heaven and the god of wealth. Supposedly, he once called on Lord Shiva at Mt. Kailas. Overconfident with the immensity of his wealth, Kubera invited Lord Shiva to a feast in his fabulous city, Alkapuri, to show off.

    Slightly peeved with Kubera’s vanity, Lord Shiva declined the invitation with a smile. He suggested that Kubera invite his child, Ganesh instead, forewarning Kubera that his son ate a lot.

    Confident of the enormous adequacy of his resources, Kubera took the little boy Ganesh to Alkapuri. There Ganesh was offered a ceremonial bath and new robes. After that Ganesh sat down for lunch.

    He charged up Kubera’s servants into a high frenzy of activity — cooking and serving, until they were out of bandwidth. Eventually Ganesh consumed all the food that was served, all the contents of the serving vessels, all the raw materials in the storehouse, the decorations, the furniture, the chandeliers, the hall’s pillars…. Kubera was terrified. He was hungry — exclaimed the child Ganesh, saying He would consume Kubera too, if not given more food.

    Kubera fled to Mt. Kailas and fell at Lord Shiva’s feet. Lord Shiva gave him a handful of cooked poha (flattened rice flakes), saying it might satiate Ganesh, if offered with humility and love.

    By the time Kubera got back to Alkapuri, Ganesh had nearly devoured most of the metropolis. Prostrating himself in abject humility, Kubera offered Him the handful of poha. That finally pacified Ganesh. Kubera had learned his lesson.

  3. Deepali says:

    hi….I was searching the web for my friend Lakshmi Albright who studied with me in Karnataka. Unfortunately i have lost her contact details. Found a reference to her on your Blog. I hope it indeed is my friend!!! Can someone please help me?
    I would appreciate it. Thanks.

Leave a Reply