Sunday, September 5, 2010
Not only has our living situation drastically changed - - I think that all of us have changed "on the inside" as well! I'm actually getting used to the five-times-a-day Muslim call to prayer from the mosque up the street. As hard as it is to believe, I think that Amy Suzanne is actually getting used to getting out of bed when the first number on the digital clock is a "4". I think Beloved The Lhasa Apso has adapted perfectly to her Indian surroundings (I still think she still wants to go running late at night with the "street dogs" that run around these parts of Banjara Hills when the moon is up, barking and hunting for food in the trash. She probably knows that she'll never be allowed to do that...but she can dream!) We're all three of us getting used to the rhythm of this crazy city. And, with very few exceptions... we are still really loving it here!
Amy's long-anticipated travel schedule is coming together. It looks like she'll be in the U.S. for work and some "horsing around" for almost two-weeks at the end of this month. I'll be keeping quite busy before that because I want to keep a photo journal of our first Ganesh Chaturthi. Or, as I like to call it "Ganesha's Birthday Party"! This spectacular festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha, popularly worshiped for his ability to remove obstacles and bring good fortune. Ganesh Chaturthi is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). This year, Ganesh Chaturthi falls on September 11. It is celebrated for the following 11 days (ending on September 22), with the biggest spectacle taking place on the last day called Ananta Chaturdasi day.
The festival begins with the installation of huge elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha in homes and podiums, which have been especially constructed and beautifully decorated. Local artisans put months of effort into making the statues. Even the local businesses and foreign firms here in Hyderabad will be getting into the act!! I hope Deloitte does one again this year...I heard that last year's version showed Ganesh with a laptop! Tradition says that it's forbidden to look at the moon on this first night, as Hindu legend says that the moon laughed at Lord Ganesha when he fell from his vehicle, the rat. On Ananta Chaturdasi (the last day), all of these statues are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then immersed in the ocean or other bodies of water. Here in Hyderabad, the main "body of water" is the Hussain Sagar lake, right in the middle of the city and only a few kilometers from where I am typing this. Because of where we live, I understand that many of the statues will have to come right by our neighborhood...and right down Road No. 3!!
Although I am coming to understand that Hinduism is actually quite monotheistic, for the most part it can be said that Hindus do venerate (worship) idols, or statues, of their gods because it gives them a visible form to pray to. They also recognize that the universe is in a constant state of change. Form eventually gives away to formlessness. However, the energy still remains. The immersion of the statues in the ocean, or other bodies of water, and subsequent destruction of them serves as a reminder of this belief.
Trivia time - - whenever you see a depiction of Lord Ganesha - you will see his "rat" or his "mouse". Lord Ganesha’s Mouse, according to the Holy Ganeshapurana, was actually a god in his own right at one time — and his name was "Kroncha".
The legend says that at the assembly of Lord Indra, Kroncha accidentally stepped on the toes of Muni Vamadeva, another god. Muni Vamadeva thought that Kroncha had done so intentionally and grew enraged and cursed Kroncha to become a mouse. Terrified, Kroncha fell to his knees and pleaded for mercy. This subdued Muni Vamadeva’s anger. He said that his curse could not go in vain, but that Kroncha would meet Lord Ganesh and become his vehicle and become worthy of worship even by gods. The mouse is very popular - - especially among the kids. Although the mouse's name is Kroncha...people still call him "Mooshika" - simply, "The Mouse".
(For more about Sri Ganesha's Mouse, see our next blog post about my first trip to a Hindu Temple - the Jaganath Temple right here in Jubilee Hills, where I attended the celebration of "Lord Krishna's Birthday" - also known as "Krishna Janmashtami" I have a bunch of great photos I will be attaching to that post! Coming soon!)
Needless to say, I am really looking forward to this year's Ganesh Chaturthi !!
Right after the festival ends, Beloved and I will also be packing our bags and going on a Road Trip with our driver and caretaker, Krishna. We're going to see some beautiful churches, perhaps even make a stop for a night in Krishna's home village - - and maybe some of the famous dams and hydro-electrical plants to the east of here in coastal Andhra Pradesh! I want to do the "Gandhi Thing" - I have seen the big city...I want to see some of the beauty of rural India! And this will be my chance!
After the October busy season at Deloitte, Amy and I are planning an early-November trip up to New Delhi, then down to Agra (the home of the Taj Majal)...then over to Amritsar to see the Sikh's Golden Temple - - then a short trip over to the border to see the not-to-be-missed India Pakistan Wagah Attari Border Closing Ceremony.