Tradition was highlighted at the ATF Ganesh festival celebrations with an idol making contest and laddoo auction, writes SHERYL DIXIT
It was a day of joy and celebration as 350 attendees to the Ganesh Festival 2013 venerated Lord Ganesha at the Ermington Community Centre in Western Sydney. Indian cultural organisation Australian Telangana Forum (ATF) was instrumental in gathering Telangana people especially from Hyderabad, to join them on the auspicious occasion in September.
The free event began at around 2pm with a priest performing the Saamoohika Ganesh pooja (combined prayer) with 30 families in attendance. The idol had been brought from India and had been created using only natural material, donated by one of the patrons of the organisation. In parallel, about 30 children participated in a competition to make idols of Lord Ganesha, using clay. Prizes were distributed to the top three winners of the best idol, while all the children present were presented with pooja pens. The committee conducted this event to showcase India’s reverence for Ganesha, one of the deities best known and most widely worshipped in the Hindu pantheon.
Next followed the cultural section which highlighted the traditional arts of India through classical vocal and dance performances, which were sincerely applauded by an appreciative audience.
The procession leading to the Ganesh visarjan (immersion) ceremony is an integral part of the festival celebrations, and this was symbolically conducted with joy and chanting within the confines of the venue.
Another highlight of a successful evening was the Hyderabad tradition of the Ganesh laddoo auction. The Ganesh laddoo is a sweet that made out of yellow split peas, sugar syrup and other ingredients, and is specifically offered to Ganesh at poojas in Hyderabad. It is considered as auspicious to the home, particularly to business people. Auction of this laddoo is a popular tradition in Hyderabad. At the event, the Ganesh laddoo auction began with a bid of $499, and soon crossed last year’s record of $700. Finally, Sagar Group and Western Chargers Sports Club together secured the laddoo with a winning bid of $1,550. A smaller laddoo meant for children was secured by Neil Reddy Karri and Nikhil Reddy Karri with a winning bid of $250. The entire process of the laddoo auction filled the venue with cheer and excitement, with cries of “Jai bolo Ganesh maharaj ki…Jai” resounding through the hall.
Following the auction, dinner was served to all participants and ATF’s biggest event Bathukamma Festival 2013 was announced, which will be held at the same venue on October 12.
ATF President Mr Madhav Katikaneni led with his executive committee team to make this event a very successful one. Addressing the audience, General Secretary Mr Venkata Prasad Ragipani said that Australian Telangana Forum represents all Australian Telugu speaking people mainly from Telangana. “This festival showcases the integration of our cultural heritage into multicultural Australia,” he added.
The ATF thanked all EC members, ATF members and all the guests who contributed. The event concluded at 9pm, following the visarjan of the Ganesh idol as per tradition.
Details of upcoming events: www.australiantelanganaforum.org.au