Students dancing together around campus, kitchen ovens filling with various cultural dishes to be shared with friends and family, delightful drawings appearing all along the sidewalk, an enchanting colored idol slowly melting away in a tub of water. . . unbeknownst to some students someone famous has visited our campus.
Ganesh Chaturthi, the Hindu festival for celebrating the Hindu deity Ganesh, began last week on Sept. 5. The usually ten-day long celebration was observed all throughout the school week with special events and activities. The celebration was expectedly decreased to a five-day period to accommodate for classes.
For some insight, Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. He is easily recognizable as his iconography includes an elephant head, multiple arms, and a snake wrapped around him. However, he does have 108 different names, such as Ganapati and Vinayaka, so perhaps not that recognizable.
Ganesh is seen as the God of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles. He is often prayed to in the hopes that any new thing started will be completed without the hindrance of hardships. In order to commemorate the occasion a large clay idol is made and honored.
Food is made to be presented to the god and then shared by his devotees, his most favorite dishes being sweets. At the end of the celebratory days the idol is melted in a large body of water, symbolizing the god’s return home.
The festivities here at TAMUK were put on by the Association of Indian Students as well as the International Student Organization.
In the five days they organized a dance, a chalk and body drawing competition, as well as a talent show.
Not to be deterred from the festival being held in Texas the students managed to acquire the idol out of Houston and gathered ingredients to make traditional dishes, such as modak and ladoos.
Elizabeth Laurence, the International and Multicultural Program Coordinator at TAMUK, put an emphasis on the schooling benefits of observing Ganesh’s worship days.
“Lord Ganesh represents new beginnings, new wisdom, a new year for education… To think big, listen more, speak less,” Laurence said.
As a god associated with buddhi, a deva of wisdom, and the patron of arts and sciences, Ganesha is often associated with education, so it is unsurprising that he be celebrated on a college campus.
The Ganesh Visarjan, the ceremony where the Ganesh idol is submerged in water, was held at the pavilion outside of the MSUB on Friday at 4 p.m. Usually the event would be held at a larger body of water, or perhaps a flowing creek, but the association made due with a tub and a social gathering.
Ajinkya Pewar, a primary officer of the Association of Indian Students, helped run the affair, at the end passing out prizes won throughout the week.