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How we’re doing Ganesh Festival in Sydney this year

This year's Ganesh Chaturthi brought pomp, splendour, and neighborhood-level celebrations which look set to become a trend.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The ongoing Ganesh Festival in Sydney has made its presence felt like never before this year. If you’re on social media you’re bound to have come across photos of elaborate home temples these past few days – as we observe the 10-day festival dedicated to the most loved of all the gods in the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha.

Some 25 years ago, marking a cherished Indian festival here in Australia, especially on a working day, meant a hurried offering in the morning before rushing to work, a quick phone call to family in India, and an evening spent wistfully reminiscing about the celebrations and festivities back home.

Ask old timers like me, and I won’t recall a time when we spent ten days celebrating Ganesha.

Not any more.

The story is totally different today.

Vipul and Alka Lunkad from Blacktown, NSW shared their Chandrayaan-3 themed Ganesha.
A Chandrayaan-3 theme for Vipul and Alka Lunkad’s Ganesh at Blacktown, NSW

This Ganesh Festival in Sydney, like in the past few years, we’ve seen the full 10-day pomp and splendour. Altar decorations have been painstakingly put together, often hand crafted over days, and then proudly shared digitally. The ‘themes’ of the decorations have entertained endlessly – you’re bound to have seen at least one Chandrayaan theme! Home visits have taken place throughout the ten days, weekdays included, with boxes of mithais exchanged.

This is also seen as an opportunity to connect children and youth to the customs and traditions of India. As usual, festive outfits are setting new trends this year too.

For some worshippers though, the neighbours have all contributed, just like the neighbourhood Ganapatis in India. Blacktown’s ‘Attenborough Ganapati’ looks like it will become an annual event. No, this has nothing to do with the Attenborough’s famed connection with India, but with Attenborough Place in Quakers Hill Sydney. This is a new development in the Blacktown Council. In a street with forty houses, thirty houses are occupied by people of Indian origin. For majority of the residents, this is their first home, and they have moved into their dream houses just this year.

Ganesha at Attenborough Place
Ganesha at Attenborough Place in Quakers Hill, NSW.

“We have a very close-knit neighbourhood,” Naveen B, one of the main organisers of Attenborough Ganapati, told Indian Link.  “We have friendly relations and are helpful to each other even though we are from different parts of the country and speak different languages and have varying traditions. To keep the festive spirit high and to bring a feeling of oneness in our new community, we hosted a street Ganapati festival – just like we used to do back in India.  We’ve placed the Ganapati idol in the garage of one of the homes, and perform two poojas each day for the whole week.” 

Sonia Katyal Walia, another enthusiastic participant, chimed in, “Dance and music events were organised every day of the week followed by delicious prasad, which was prepared enthusiastically by all the families in turns. This has brought the whole suburb together and makes us feel like we are celebrating in India. It has also helped us to get to know people and has made us feel like we are one big family.” 

Here’s hoping Attenborough Ganapati grows large enough to draw visitors from all across the city – even from the mainstream  – just like the Diwali lights at Schofields!

 

With the increase in the numbers of Indian migrants, you’ll find a Ganesh Festival in Sydney in every major suburb.

Ganeshji was welcomed at the Swami Narayan Temple in Blacktown with impressive drumbeats and well synchronised lezim dance, typical of Maharashtra. The Ganesh Visarajan is a major event at the Sri Ventkateshwara temple (SVT) in Helensburg where the Ganapathi idol is taken in a huge procession by hundreds of devotees to be immersed in the ocean.

Grand celebrations were organised by the Telugu Sandadi in Paramatta.

Hornsby families had a day-long celebrations with games and competitions for children and families organised at the Berowra Community Hall. 

Ganapathi festival was celebrated also in Parramatta, Minto, Box Hill and other parts of Sydney with traditional worship and gaiety.

The very popular Friends of India group is hosting its 28th Ganeshotsav at the Whitlam centre in Liverpool on 1 and 2 October. The two-day event draws thousands of Indians and a few non-Indians to its cultural extravaganza.

Another unique addition to these celebrations is the idol making workshops that took place city-wide. The creative ones made Ganesh idols with clay, playdough, fruits, vegetables etc at home but there was also guidance available for people to make their own Ganesh idols at the Ganesha making workshops.

Mr. Dakshinamurthy from the Dakshin Art Academy organised five workshops at various venues. $2025 was raised as donations in these workshops, even as his talented daughters Mili and Kushi matched the funds to donate to a noble cause.

It was way back in 1893 that Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak revived the traditional Ganapathi festival and transformed it into a public celebration. His idea was to unite Indians and create a sense of national identity. That same sense of unity is seen emerging 130 years later here in Australia.

READ ALSO: Ganpati in our homes: Ganesh Chaturthi 2023

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