It has been a while since I wrote, but I’m back baby and I hope you enjoy this post.
September is my favorite time of year and no, it is not because of pumpkin spice and the crisp fall weather. In September (or end of August, depending on the lunar calendar) we get to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesh. It’s Ganesh Chaturthi! I am trying to introduce Indian festivals to my children organically. I want these celebrations to be as much a part of their lives as Halloween and Thanksgiving are.
This year to commemorate the beloved Lord Ganesh, Vihaan is participating in an Indian cultural dance. I take him to practice two times a week where he is paired with other 5 and 6 year-olds to learn and Indian dance. Sidebar- Vihaan adores his dance teacher, which I think is so cute. On the last day of the Ganpati festival Vihaan will perform this dance on stage with his buddies.
Another thing I’ve done past couple years is make the Ganesh idol at home, either using clay/ pottery techniques or plain ol’ playdoh. I prefer playdoh, while the idol does not come out as sophisticated and elegant as clay or a store bought one; it is easy to return to its elements at the end of the festival.
Ganpati needs a home to reside in during the festival, a palace and his throne is collectively called a makhar. Last year I made the makhar out of magna-tiles because my children were into magna-tiles. I wanted them to have a stake in it, and feel ownership of the makhar. This year we stepped it up a notch and used lego blocks to make the makhar. I was helped by my two top assistants, Vihaan and Aarini. I’ll admit their involvement is more distracting than constructive, but it was fun nonetheless. Vihaan helped sort the legos into different colors and Aarini was given the task of finding all the flower blocks. We were preparing a little Ganesh cityscape. The focal point of our city is Ganpati’s home. I used orange and dark yellow blocks for the pillars and back wall. The roof has some bright red blocks and Ganpati’s chair is a red lego chair. Maintaining color themes gives it a sense of purpose. I didn’t want the makhar to look like I threw some blocks together. We made it look even more legit when we arranged Batman and Hulk as devotees. Aarini and Vihaan are big into superheroes. Vihaan was so pleased that superheroes are getting their superpowers from Ganesh.
During the festival we offer flowers and prasad (Indian sweets and fruit) to the God. I wanted to add that to the cityscape. My assistants located brown blocks for the ground, and green ones for leaves. Aarini gave me all the lego flowers she could find for our little garden. Vihaan asked if we could put a bird in the garden, just like the birds we see in our backyard. Of course we can! We had a yellow lego bird in the pile. It was added to the garden. I wanted a gardener tending to the flowers. We found a handsome lego dude with a suit tie and glasses. I paired him with a watering can, and we got ourselves not just a gardener but a high-end landscape artist. Garden complete.
The flowers need to be transported from the garden to the temple. We made a little train by linking a couple wagons together. Vihaan picked out a girl driver and Aarini helped me fill the wagons with flowers and we used lego grapes and cake as prasad. I put another lego girl in the back end of the train to keep a watch on the goods and water the flowers.
Tada! And here is our full set up.
I continue to seek ways of getting the children interested and involved. Vihaan checks in on the superheros and Ganapti each morning. Aarini watches her brother adoringly. And we pray as a family.
Ganpati Bappa, Morya!