The morning dawned bright and clear, but soon it was a swirling mass of clouds which soon burst and soaked us as we prepared to welcome Ganesha, the elephant-headed God. It looked like the heavens were welcoming the gracious lord with welcome showers of rain, which, incidentally, we had almost given up on!
We still don’t have any pujas this year, and as we drove along the highway towards my mom’s house, the rains lashed almost till we reached. Then, they suddenly seemed to give up, and all was dry once more.
All along the road, people were getting their favourite lord home, covering up his face, as is the custom. His face will be uncovered only when he reaches home and the prayers begin to install him as the most preferred guest for the period.
In my mom’s place, prayers were on in full swing, for we have a special puja to go with Ganesh Chaturthi. We not only invite the child-like elephant headed god, but also his mother Parvati, also known as Gowri.
According to mythology, Parvati is believed to have made a visit to her mother’s home – earth, and Shiva wanted her to return as soon as possible. He therefore sent their son Ganesha, right behind her, asking him to bring back his mother soon. We, therefore begin our celebrations with Gowri Puja, inviting the Devi home. Then we welcome her son, who gets a reception befitting a much-loved grandson. On an auspicious day (the period varies), both, mother and son are sent back with much pomp and ceremony, and much regret too...
This year, both Gowri and Ganesha arrived on the same day, and stay for a full 5 days, making the puja an even more elaborate affair. Here are some pics….
The house is decorated – from the entrance to the puja room… with rangoli and lights…..
The arrangement of the idols –
The image of Gowri –
And Ganesha –
Till recently, we used to use a clay image of Ganesha and a sand rolled in cloth with a face drawn on it, for Gowri. These used to be immersed in the lake after the puja was over. However, these days the condition of the lakes are so bad, that we have modified things and use these idols for the puja, which can be re-used without any harmful effects.
The flowers for the puja….
The puja in progress….
Finally, the Naivedyam – the offerings to the guests…. Mouthwatering stuff!
Lets take a closer look…
First, the fruits….
Here’s the Sakkara Pongal – sweet pongal.
Kozhakattai – modaks…. Ganesha’s favourite… and Samhith’s too….
Idlis…the most healthy food in the lot…
Uppu kozhakkattai – made with pulses and salty..
Ellu Kozhakkattai – made with til…
Pal Poli (Polis dipped in milk..)
And there were lots more items….. A regular feast!!
At the end of the puja, we women had a thread tied around our wrists…. For our well-being, I suppose…..
And finally, as the daughter of the house, I was given the haldi-kumkum, or vettalai pakku, with a slight difference. All the items were given to me in a ‘moram’ (I have no idea what to call it in English, so you can take a look yourself!)
Here’s what’s inside……..
Before I end this post, here’s a look at the many types of Ganeshas my sister has collected over the years… have I mentioned that we are all voracious collectors? We all collect all sorts of stuff… which probably explains why there’s no more place in my house!