Starting Over with Fresh Colours at Ganesh Chathurti

There were colours everywhere.

Puffs of green, pink and orange met in the sky like they were inevitably meant to be and it was a beautiful love story. The coloured powder fell onto us, painting our clothes with a fresh coat. Not a care in the world about how we looked or how our phones, coats, dresses were covered in sandalwood.

No one was complaining, we were celebrating.

This is Ganesha Chathurthi, an annual celebration at the Sri Venkatewswara Temple in Helensburgh, New South Wales.

Hundreds of devotees gather on this day before Lord Ganesha to repent of their sins, seek forgiveness and blessing for new beginnings. The devotees know this ritual by heart as they make their way into the temple, bowing before the Gods.

Some lay on the grown, belly towards the floor, in full reverence while others pulled their ears as a personal form of punishment and admittance of wrongdoing. It was their way of starting over.

The priest chants and his men accompany him with sounds of worship from their instruments. The drums, harmonium and Shehnai create an unmistakeable Hindu tune that drew you in. Close your eyes and it’s a whole experience on its own.

Light streamed through the ceiling and made the ground feel a lot more sacred. Children bathed themselves in the sunshine and played with their shadows on the ground while their parents made offerings to the Gods. Both believers and non-believers were seen standing before the shrine of Lord Ganesha, eyes closed as they poured their hopes and wishes before him.

Lord Ganesha is the Lord of Good Fortune, Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles. He is believed to aid you in your endeavours and bring you success. For many, he must have, which is what makes this celebration so grand.

A huge statue of Lord Ganesha is drawn out on a carriage after the prayers and along with him, smaller versions made by the children. The statue is transported by the priest as the rest of the crowd danced along to new tunes led by a troop clad in white, but not for long.

Soon, the atmosphere transforms itself from serious, solemn prayers to traditional dances, pelting of sandalwood powder and upbeat drumming, as the statue of Lord Ganesha makes it way around the temple. The crowd follows and immerses itself in the celebration.

At the end of it all, the statue of Lord Ganesha is taken to sea. Devotees formed him from mud and soil, and believe this is the way he should return and be sent off.

Ganesha Chathurti is an incredible symbol of endings and new beginnings, one that we could all use and learn from, whether or not we’re believers  – to admit that we were wrong, to seek forgiveness, to let go and most of all, to dance to another chance of starting over.

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Pens&Lens was launched in October 2016 as part of a passion project by partners-in-crime, Mark and Lynette. Combining their love for travel, stories, people and places, they wanted to share the views of the world they see from behind their pens and lens.