From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!
Party of One: Ganesha
Sometimes I like to go to visit Gods and Goddesses from neighboring friendly pantheons. After attending my first Kirtan chant three years ago, I was introduced to the Hindu God Ganesh, the elephant-headed remover of obstacles. I was instantly drawn to him and "Gan Gan Ganapati" quickly became by personal favorite chant. It resonated on a deeper level of my subconscious. After some research, I discovered that Ganesh has his very own ten day festival every year in India, Ganesh Chaturthi. According to About.com Guide, Sharell Cook, it culminates with a huge celebration on the last day called, Anata Chaturdasi day. Cook notes that the festivities are dependant "on the cycle of the moon." The dates fall a little differently annually, but for 2013 "Ganesh Fest" runs September 9 - September 19. The website, http://goindia.about.com/od/festivalsevents/p/ganeshfestival.htm had some inspiring suggestions for setting up an altar and honoring Ganesh in your own home.
According to Subhamoy Das, also from the goindia site, Ganesh likes offerings of "coconuts, flowers, and camphor." You could also decorate your altar with figures of Ganesh and the color red.
Later in the article, "Ganesh Chaturthi, How to celebrate the great Ganesha festival," by Das, Swami Sivananda recommends, "On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it."
Sivananda concludes, "Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings."
I participated on an independent level myself those same three years ago, after the death of my maternal grandmother. To be honest, it shook me to the core and I turned to Ganesh to help keep the pathways and my heart open. If you wish to get in touch with Ganesh, I highly recommend it. He is a mighty yet benevolent force whom you can certainly call on and count on, if he speaks to you. While listening to Ragani Buegel's version of "Ganapati," close your eyes. I often get an image of a herd of elephants picking up steam and letting nothing stand in their way. A powerful force of movement, to be sure.
Ragani's music can be heard at: http://www.raganiworld.com/
Photo: Ganesha Statue by Lavoview at freedigitalphotos.net
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