The streets of Liverpool host a classic Bollywood-style Ganpati Visarjan procession
Every year, marking the conclusion of the ten-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, devotees immerse idols of the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha in water. Chants of “Ganpati Bappa Morya” and sounds of the dhol resound through the streets as followers proceed towards the water.
It was indeed an impressive visual on the main streets of Liverpool this September as Friends of India, Australia hosted a two-day celebration giving the impression that Maharashtra had come to Sydney.
With this year marking the 20th annual Ganeshotsava, the festivities were a grand affair.
Various poojas, a Ganpati installation with an ornate stage, preparation of eco-friendly Ganesha deities, a cultural extravaganza, bhajans, and a Ganpati immersion procession were just a few of the incredible highlights.
The Ganeshotsava FOIA team, about 400 volunteers from the Liverpool area, welcomed more than 5000 enthusiasts during the weekend and ensured that they all enjoyed themselves and were rewarded with the mahaprasadam (sanctified food of the Indian vegetarian delicacy of pulav, korma and sweets made out of carrots).
The highlight of the Saturday program was the inaugural pooja when the Pandit lifted a coconut above his head and smashed it against the floor, crushing it into pieces.
A semicircle of onlookers, draped in magenta, saffron, violet and burgundy, clapped as if in chorus.
“The coconut shell is like the human ego,” said the Pandit, “You have to break open the ego-filled intellect to let the Lord reside in your pure heart.”
It was also an opportunity for the new generation of devotees to exercise and understand their religious tasks.
At a special chanting ceremony for children, primary school students clasped their hands and shut their eyes tightly as they recited the mantras and shlokas.
“Ganesha is my favourite god,” they said, before explaining how they learnt the mythology behind how the deity came to have an elephant head.
Engaging children’s activities were followed by devotional bhajans and kirtans by budding artists. Then began the cultural gala session.
A contemporary-style Indian dance combining classical and South Indian beats was a not to be missed performance by Smruthi, Vaishnavi and team of nine amazing girls draped in red sarees.
The last day of the festival, following the morning pooja and chanting, began with children’s fancy dress.
Kids as young as four years old dressed up as the cutest little Hindu lords and exhibited their traditional Indian wardrobes.
In true Aussie style, the gigantic Ganesha deity was then set on the back of a ute to move in the procession, along with the smaller bio-degradable Ganesha clay idol.
The procession itself was a unique experience as hundreds of Ganesha devotees sang and danced away with joy.
“Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudcha Varshi Laukariya” they chanted for over an hour, asking Lord Ganesha to come early next year.
A ten-year-old youngster named Amogha Pradeep became the hero of the afternoon as devotees followed him while he sat on his older brother’s shoulders and stridently yelled ‘Ganpati Bappa’.
It was just incredible to see his zeal supported by everyone around him who followed repeating ‘Morya’. (The term Morya comes from Morya Gosavi who was a famous devotee of Lord Ganesha in 14th century Pune.)
After reaching the water, the eco-friendly idol was immersed in Chipping Norton Lake on the Georges River, symbolising that the Lord Ganesha, also known as an obstacle remover, takes away all pains and sorrows from people’s lives and in return blesses each one with love and happiness.
The FOIA team, lead by Shoba Deshikan, Ramyavaran Vasu, Rajeev Jairam, Rajesh Jolapara and Lakshmi Ramyavaran, did a fantastic job on the 20th anniversary of Ganeshotsava in 2015.
Their legacy has been passed on to the younger generations, and young volunteers such as Divya, Krishna, Tanu, Vaishnavi and Charishma also played a major role in planning this enormous festival with the support of hundreds of other volunteers.
Both the days were well attended by dignitaries, MPs, local councillors, community leaders, members of Liverpool Council and local police.
Everyone supported the festival and congratulated all participants and volunteers for their enthusiasm and service.