India is a very diverse country and every city has its own rich history and culture. A particularly striking aspect of this is the range of different festivals celebrated throughout the country.
One of the biggest festivals celebrated around this time of the year in Mumbai is “Ganesh Chaturti”. Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is one of the most famous Hindu Gods and easily identified by his elephant head. He is known as the God of Wisdom and Intellect, but also as “Ek Dant”- one tooth – and “Vighnaharta”- vanquisher of obstacles. Continue reading Ganesh And The Story Behind Maharashtra’s Favourite Festival
Nick takes us through his experience last year during Ganesh Chaturthi and explains what he learned.
The Modern Origin
There weren’t any crowds when we turn onto the side street indicated on our map. It was surprising considering my friend and I were trying to find the housing society responsible for the modern form of Ganesh Chaturthi, Mumbai’s biggest festival, during the holiday itself. We went down the entire lane only to find a small Ganesh in a nearly empty housing society courtyard. We decided to ask them for directions.
As we walked into the courtyard, with facads in the old Portugese style rising up on either side of us, a young man sitting on a wooden platform in front of the Ganesh pandal immediately bounced to his feet and came to greet us. He was incredibly friendly and quickly informed us that this was indeed the first society to celebrate the festival in its modern form, which they have been doing continuously for the past 121 years.
Continue reading Ganesh Chaturthi: Mumbai’s Biggest Festival
The morning of Eid, after repeatedly assuring us that it wouldn’t be an inconvenience, Asim kindly invited the foreigners from the office to his family home nearby Dharavi for Eid al-Adha. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous for this: I had never seen anything sacrificed before. We wound our way through the narrow streets to Asim’s home and greeted his extended family. Everyone was sitting around the living room in their Sunday best casually chatting and surfing the internet on their smart phones. The scene looked like it could have been the living room of any of my family’s holidays, except for one key difference: there was a skinned goat cut in half sitting in the center of the living room. The head and legs were on a platter underneath a chair. What a way to start off the week!
Continue reading Eid al-Adha in Mumbai: One Square Kilometer Of Goats (Part 2)
Note: this one isn’t for the faint of heart!
It was a boiling hot Saturday morning and my stomach was not feeling 100%, but there was no way I was missing this. When you get invited for a behind the scenes peak at your friend’s most meaningful religious holiday, one I had never even heard of before I moved to India, you don’t make excuses, you go. So I ate the blandest breakfast I could muster (oatmeal), drank a few liters of water, spent some quality time in the bathroom, and headed north to Asia’s largest goat market.
Continue reading Eid al-Adha In Mumbai: One Square Kilometer Of Goats (Part 1)