Auckland, September 8, 2021
With Auckland under total lockdown and rest of New Zealand being governed under stringent Alert Level 2 conditions, Hindus would have to be content with marking the Birthday of their favourite God Ganesha online.
Ganesh Chaturthi will be observed on Friday, September 10, 2021 and with Temples in Auckland closed, celebrations will be restricted to homes but the joy of the Festival will be spread on social platforms by several community organisations and Temple Priests.
Telugu Association Event
While Temples and social groups outside Auckland will perform special Poojas restricted to 50 persons, Ganesh Chaturthi will be marked by thousands of people in their homes throughout New Zealand and other parts of the world. Unlike the past, evenings this year will be sans visits by relatives and friends, which, apart from the religious aspect, also serve to foster goodwill and understanding.
New Zealand Telugu Association, the oldest body representing the Telugu speaking community in New Zealand has planned a virtual Ganesh Chaturthi on Zoom at 6 pm on Friday, September 10, 2021.
Association President Srilatha Magatala said that the religious ceremony can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world with the following details:
ID 87605529528; Password; JaiGanesha
“Pandit Sravan Kumar will perform the Pooja and the Mangala Aarthi. We had to cancel the grand celebrations with an entertainment programme and Mahaprasad that we had planned in view of Covid-19 lockdown. The Virtual Ceremony will be the next best alternative to the public event,” she said.
Further details can be obtained from her on 022-0669114. Email: email@example.com
Temple in Papakura
Lord Ganesha Temple in the South Auckland suburb of Papakura, which witnesses the hundreds of people paying their obeisance will be shut this year.
But that would not prevent Chief Priest Parameswaran (Chandru) performing the Ganesh Chaturthi at home, praying the welfare of all beings on earth.
The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kuttumbakam,’ or ‘The Whole World is One Family,’ encompassing all its peoples and religious beliefs and non-beliefs into a homogenous unit is sanctified in the Hindu Dharma and practiced for thousands of years, he said.
Epitome of admiration and adoration
“Lord Ganesha is an epitome of love, respect, friendship, admiration and adoration. He is an important member of every family and is the first Lord of Prayer. Vedic scriptures describe Lord Ganesha as the Most Merciful of Gods and hence, prayers are offered before the start of any venture. Similarly, all prayers – at home, at temples and at other social and community gatherings, begin with obeisance to this God, the first son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi,” Chandru said.
Even the Temple at Pillayarpatti, a small town about 12 Kms from Karaikudi and about 70 Kms from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, celebrations this year will be subdued. The Temple houses which houses the Deity of ‘Pillayarpatti Vinayagar,’ one of the oldest in the world.
Ganesh Pooja involves the ‘Panchamrut’ or ‘five nectars,’ including milk, curd, ghee, honey and jaggery, with which the idol is bathed.
He is then soiled with sandal paste and cleaned with water.
“The Lord is then adorned by a red cloth called, ‘Vastra’ and the sacred thread. He is offered red flowers, ‘durva’ (grass), red hibiscus and food and smeared with ‘kumkum.’ A lamp is lit and Pooja bells ring while reciting Aarti. The main sweet-dish presented as ‘nevedya’ through this period is Modakas (Modagams in South India) and Karanjis. A Modaka is like a dumpling made from rice flour with a stuffing of fresh coconut, jaggery and dry fruits and is either steam-cooked or fried. Karanjis are half-moon shaped and taste like modakas.
On the last day, following the Pooja, rice grains are placed on the head of the idol.
At sunset, the idol is immersed in a well or a river, with the recitation of ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya, Pudchya Varshi Lawkar Ya,’ inviting Him to return next year.”
Ganesh Chaturthi is observed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada and is observed by devoted Hindus all over the world from two to 11 days.
Maharashtrians, like their Hindu compatriots worldwide, induct their children into learning with ‘Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha.’
Ganesha is known by a variety of names including Aumkara, Balachandra, Dhoomraketu, Ekadantha, Gajakarnaka, Gajanana, Heramba, Kapila, Lambodara, Siddhivinayaka, Skandapurvaja, Sumukha, Surpakarna, Vakratunda, Vignaraja, Vigneshwara and Vinayaka. He is also known by many as Maha-Ganapathi.
There are also public celebrations called ‘Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav’ of this Festival in various parts of cities, with the local communities (mandals) with contributions from residents. It is common for groups to compete in creating the biggest and best idol and in presenting cultural programmes after dusk. But these may not be held this year because of Covid-19.
Radical nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak organised Ganesh Utsav in 1893 and since then, the Festival is held throughout Maharashtra, evincing widespread community interest.