[AUDIO] Hindus Celebrate Lord Ganesha

Color, music and dance filled the streets of Flushing in late September as Hindus gathered to celebrate the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi. The festival is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god worshipped for auspicious beginnings.

The Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapti Devasthanam, also called the Hindu Temple Society of North America, has put on a major Ganesha Chaturthi Celebration in Flushing annually since 1977.  The festival lasts nine days and culminates with a grand procession.

A devotee who identified himself as Padmanabhan explained the significance of Lord Ganesha.  “This particular god Ganesha, anything you would like to do in your life, like a marriage, or finding a job, or getting anything at all, he removes all the obstacles, that is the belief.”

Maadhuri Shankar, a student at Stony Brook University who lives in Flushing, has been coming to the temple for as long as she can remember.  She said the event always sees a huge turnout.“Basically the whole community comes out.  A lot of people from the tri-state area if not further, come out for this auspicious event.  There’s like thousands of people here right now,” Shakar said. Devotees in traditional Indian clothing paraded Ganesha through the streets on a chariot as they chanted, drummed, trumpeted and danced.  Everyone gathered for food at the temple following the three-hour parade.In India,  thousands of clay images of Ganesha are processed through streets before being immersed in the ocean.  The ritual symbolizes Ganesha’s energy flowing out to bless the universe.  In Flushing, devotees emulate this ritual by immersing a clay Ganesha into a small pool and dancing around it during the procession.
Shankar has a packed schedule as a student, but is glad to be spending her Sunday at the temple.   “We really like to come and take time out of our busy days and give our offerings for Ganesha,” she said.