We were privileged to visit a local family who celebrated Ganesha, the birthday of Ganesha the god of physical life as it connects with divine life. Our Hindu host invited us to participate in the ceremonies and related the mythology and why this celebration was important to them. It was an amazingly elaborate procedure of decorating with food, flowers, and sounds of bells, chants, and the smells of incense, candles and spices. The bright and luminous colors of fabric and spice abundantly created an atmosphere of joyful festivities. After the homeowner underwent ceremonial rituals with the priest, while their mother cooked an elaborate lunch, we all sat down on the floor to eat together. Many dishes were served by the mother of the home on banana leaves.
After lunch we went for a walk through the streets to greet neighbors and friends who shared the celebration. The streets were jolly and filled with smiling and dancing children who offered me blessings and Indian sweets. They all wanted to be photographed.
Many people lined up at the official temples to give acknowledgement to their deity. People looked at me with my camera and smiled warmly with their hearts and eyes. Then they greeted me in English and welcomed me to India and their sacred celebration.
Our driver does not celebrate Ganesha. He is a Christian Indian and proud to be so. When our host joined us on a short drive to a street festival, he pointed at his Mother Mary and photo of Jesus, surrounded with a wreath of jasmine around his car’s rear-mirror, announcing proudly that this is his altar of celebration. Our host graciously and respectfully acknowledged him and his belief.
Once again I thought how wonderful it is to hold space for all in the world. I love that!
Now before I end my conversation with you, I would like to share a little taste of how I heard and understood the Mythology of Ganesha. The story of Ganesha is a complicated one that you can read about on the internet. What stood out in my understanding is the importance of the place of our collective awareness; how our self-centered egos become aware of the self in us that relate to the whole universe and all of creation. Every element and being in physical life has a vital place in the collective and we need to participate with this life as much as with spiritual life. To lose our self-centered egos also mean that we lose our interest in the physical world and our bodies as vehicles of our spirits in life. That is not a good thing. Only when we are aware of ourselves as beings that relate with the rest of the universe in meaningful wholeness that creates and evolve together are we ready to meet God in us. We are only truly alive once our collective consciousness connects with God in us and we respect and maintain all physical life as an expression of God as we appreciate physical life. So the ego itself is not a bad thing when it becomes aware of its place with the entire universe.
Love and Blessings to you all.