Its that time of the year again in Bombay – Ganesh Chaturthi. 11 days of traffic mayhem, processions, music and dancing in the streets and modaks.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrating the re birth of the god Ganesh or Ganpati. He is worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and prayers are offered to him at the beginning of any new venture.
The festival starts with placing a statue of Ganesh on a temporary structure called a mandap or pandal. These statues are usually made of plaster of paris and can be huge – up to 12’ tall. These pandals are either in private homes or for a block of flats or a locality and are colourfully decorated with flowers and lights.
Most large locality Ganesh’s are worshipped for 10 days and on the 11th day, the statue is carried through the streets in a procession by people all dressed up, dancing and singing with drums, smearing each other (and everyone around them) with red powder called gulal. It is then immersed in a river or the sea. The belief is that Ganesh takes away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. This immersion is known as Ganesh Visarjan. In individual homes the Visarjan is done on the 3rd, 5th or 7th day depending on family traditions.
on the left – Kachori and Channas, Kaju Barfi, Jalebis, Chomchom and Chivda
and on the right – Samosas with Mint and Coriander Chutney, Banana Chips, Modak and Peda
The society of the block of flats we live in also keeps a Ganpati. They have pujas (prayers) twice a day and distribute prashad in the morning and have a dinner every night. The food is delicious (but rich and calorie laden) – its pure vegetarian, they don’t even use onions or garlic. My daughter loves the food – she keeps running down impatiently waiting for the prayers to finish. The Ganpati is then immersed on the 5th day. Some homes buy small clay Ganpatis and immerse the statue in a bucket or tub at home, so as not to pollute rivers and the sea. After a few days the clay is used in the garden.
Modaks are the traditional sweets eaten during this festival. These are little dumplings, which are traditionally made from rice or wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry coconut and jaggery. Now of course, the variety of modaks is huge – saffron, pistachio, almond, cranberry, white and milk chocolate with blueberry, strawberry and kiwi fruit and sugar free made with dates, figs and nuts … The only thing that they all have in common is the shape – a little twirly cone (and that they’re super sweet)
Different kinds of Modak
Non traditional Modak made with chocolate
No idea what this is but it looked GORGEOUS!
29.09.12 – Yesterday was the final day of Ganesh Chaturthi and there are thousands and thousands of people on the street and the beach. The residents of our building distribute vada pao and juice to the devotees going past the gate.
1. Vada Pao 2. Making the vada and 3. putting the vada pao together
Explanation of some of the the words used –
Prashad – Offering of food to a deity. Once the food has been blessed it is given to the devotees and considered holy.
Kachori – Round flattened pastry made of flour, filled with a stuffing of lentils and spices and then fried.
Channas or Chole – Spicy chickepea curry
Kaju Barfi – Indian sweet made by boiling milk till it thickens and then mixed with sugar and cashew nuts.
Jalebis – Jalebis are made by deep-frying a wheat-flour batter in a squiggly shape and then soaking in sugar syrup. It is similar to the Middle Eastern Zalabiya
Chomchom – A Bengali sweet made by bolling milk and then curdling it with whey. This is wrapped in muslin, drained and and then turned into sweets (my favourite)
Chivda – Called Bombay Mix in the UK, it can be a mix of fried lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, chickpea flour noodles, flaked rice and curry leaves.
Samosas – Fried pastry with a savoury filling – usually potatoes.
Peda– Indian sweet made by boiling milk till it thickens and then adding sugar and cardamom, pistachio or saffron.
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