Thursday, May 3, 2012

Learning a New Culture

I felt like a kid with new clothes and crayons on the first day of school. Everything was exciting and new and I was meeting and making new friends daily. The Renaissance was home and felt safe and familiar and allowed me to venture out each day to explore and discover Mumbai.

The wonderful thing about the 6 second organization is you meet people from all around the world. Arati Suryawanshi reached out before I left Nova Scotia and told me to contact her when we reached Mumbai. She invited us to her home for lunch and to be part of the prayers to Lord Ganesh since we moved to Mumbai in the middle of the Ganesha festival. When we went to Arati’s house she invited us to be part of the pranapratishtha, or the prayers and chanting of the mantra to Lord Ganesha.I believe you can tell the strength of the family in the character of the child, and their son Raj is a tribute to them.

Both Ric and I thoroughly enjoyed our day and felt very privileged to be part of the family prayers . The meal afterwards was amazing and Ric’s appetite showed his appreciation!

In the 8 months we have lived in Mumbai I have learned a lot more about the Hindu religion and about why Ganesha is one of the favorites.

Ganesha has an elephant head which denotes wisdom and symbolizes the soul which I am told is the ultimate reality of the human existence. His human body signifies the earthly existence of human beings. In Mumbai, the Ganesha festival is observed from mid-August to mid-September. The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents. These tents also serve as the venue for free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, dramatic performances, films, devotional songs, etc. during the days of the festival. All of the alms collected during the time of the festival go towards helping the people in the community who need help. The festival ends in Ganesha statues being immersed in water. These statues can vary in height from a few inches to 25 feet and it’s something to see when these huge statues are immersed.

It’s easy to make fun of what we don’t understand. The beautiful symbolism of a religion different from the one I was raised with has helped open my eyes to the peace and quiet dignity of part of the Indian culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment