Ganesha Chaturthi (birthday of the elephant-headed deity), one of the most anticipated festivals at my place, will soon be upon us. The spirit of this occasion is infectious. I'm thousands of miles away from the heart of the celebration, but the festivities have already begun here in Virginia - my home. I've always had a soft corner for this zoomorphic deity Ganesha. Maybe his iconic status as the remover of obstacles and widely revered as a patron of education and learning had something to do with that. He's also one of the very few God's with a cute quotient as his pot-belly and big ears are very appealing to me.
There are a number of interpretations to the symbolic form of the Ganesha. The most important lesson that I take away with me is that a supreme power like him is humble enough to ride the nethermost of creatures, a mouse.
While growing up, my sister and I were allowed to help with the flower decorations and puja preparations. The best part about Indian festivals is the spread that moms and grand-moms make on such occasions. My sister and I would gormandize the modaks (sweet and savory rice dumplings, fried or steamed with a variety of delicious combinations of sesame, peanuts, coconut and jaggery to name a few) knowing fully well that overindulgence could make us sick.We'd have friends and neighbors visiting our homes to wish us and exchange delectable goodies. And at the end of the day, a really bitter feeling would overcome me with the thought that we had to let go of our Ganesha's for the visarjan (submersion of the idol in the water)and that the day has come to an end.
In an effort to recreate the magic and a sense of tradition and celebration for my family, I have some inspirational decor from my home to yours. I've been scrubbing my brass Trimurti Ganesha (three faced Elephant God)with tamarind to brighten him up for the special day. I've dedicated a corner in my home, pairing the Ganesha with fresh flowers, potted plants and a variety of brass diya's for some traditional drama and ethnic appeal. Varying the height of all the decor elements in this setting makes it interesting leading the eye to different levels.
A brass urli forms a perfect container to float Marigolds in hues of orange and yellow.A traditional Kerala lamp (gifted by a dear friend Roopa) placed in the center of the urli makes for an interesting setting. The Marigolds are from my very own garden making them extra special. (A little note on Marigolds - these gorgeous flowers are widely used in medicine, flavoring, as a dye agent, in the perfumery industry and as an ornamental plant.)
If the diya's are big enough to support a votive holder, do use them as they are hassle free options than using oil to light lamps.
A Ganesha inspired decorative wind chime is placed randomly on the coffee table mimicking the kaleidoscope of colors that are used to spruce up the living room in true Indian style. To create this look, all you need are a few lamps, fresh flowers and an ingenious bent of mind to work with what you got.Wishing all my wonderful readers happiness and laughter for a memorable celebration with your loved ones.
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