Friday, August 28, 2009

25-27 August 09, Ganesh's birthday (Vinayaka Chaturthi) and Mike's birthday

Ganesh's Birthday

Ganesh or Vinayaka Chaturthi is dedicated to Lord Ganesh (son of Shiva), the elephant -headed god of all good beginnings and success. The festival celebrated as the birth day of Lord Ganesha, is a ten day long event held annually in South India especially with great fervour in Maharashtra. It falls on the fourth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadhrapada (August -September).

I put two brief videos of Vinayaka Chaturthi we witnessed in downtown Coonoor on Tuesday, 26 August. The one above, was full of kids who were waving to me. Unfortunately, in both videos I did not show you very clearly the large Ganesh statues in the truck with the boys.

Mike's Birthday

August 27th was my son Mike's birthday. He would have been 40. I wanted to do something to remember him, and Gopal suggested having a feast for our whole colony in Mike's memory. So, that's what we did. Jayanthi, Mariama and Shashi all pitched in and actually did all the work. They cooked vegetable biriyani and raita (they call raita thiyeer chutney, yogurt chutney). We added laddu (an Indian sweet), fruit, beetlenut, and candy. Gopal did puja with the food as prasad. At 8pm, Gopal and I (accompanied by Shriya of course) took enough dinner for each household, one by one. It was really nice.

In the morning, Gopal cleaned the living room, including doing this Sambirani ritual, purifying our home with herbal smoke.

While Gopal was doing the Sambirani, Mariama (the kolam artist) was creating a beautiful birthday kolam

Jayanthi started to help with the kolam

The sun was extremely hot, so Gopal put up an awning for the occasion

Here's the finished kolam. It was much more beautiful than you can see here. (Before dinner, Shaggy chased a kitten right through the kolam and pretty much ruined it!)

Mariama, Mrs. Chandran the milk lady, Carolyn, Jayanthi preparing the food for cooking

In the meantime, this kitten charmed his way into the house. We were vulnerable to his charms because of the rodent problem in our house, ya know?

I put this picture in because, most of the time, the ladies were cooking by candlelight because the electricity literally went out 5-6 times while they were cooking.

Carolyn, Shashi, Mariama

Jayanthi, Mariama and Shashi cooking

After we distributed the dinner to our neighbors, Jayanthi, Atul, Gopal, Vijay, Shriya, Mariama and I settled down for our birthday dinner. Having Atul and Shriya, the children, with us that day was particularly special because they had been staying with an uncle while their mother is away where her father is dying.

Remembering Mike

At the end of the day, we evicted the cat. Here's Shaggy really wanting to catch the kitten. (On the right, you'll see where the landlord's son used our chalk and wrote on the front of our house. sigh)

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