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Articles: Life in AP
Vinayaka Chavithi in Hyderabadu
- Mr. Kenny Montana
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After reading the vignettes of my fellow telugus I thought of posting some of my own memories of living in Hyderabad. These are just few of my observations and by no means a 'living oustide India' debate. Read on... August 23, 2001 Somewhere on the West Coast in good ol' USA: Like the past twelve Ganesh chathurthi's this one too brought a ton of nostalgia and I found this web site as a good place/medium to share my memorable moments on this day...years ago Like other festivals, Ganesh Chathurthi has a special flavor in 'the city'. An air of festivity is felt eveywhere regardless of race, creed, caste or religion. I guess that's what makes this city so special, so unique. So here's my recollection of Ganesh Chathurthi in Hyderabad. The indian festival season kicks off (almost like the NCAA football season in the US) with Raksha Bandhan, followed by Janmasthami (Lord Krishna's birthday) and then Ganesh Chathurthi. Nowhere is this festival celeberated with such gusto as in Mumbai and Hyderabad. A few days before the festival, the main shopping areas are decorated with street vendors selling ganapathi idols, flowers and all the varieties of fruits, leaves for the ganapathy pooja. As kids the competition was to get the biggest idol possible with the allowance given to us. This is also the time for new clothes so its a trip to the few places (Chermas, Weekender, Raymonds etc) that carried the 'cool' clothes. The day prior to the festival there is a frenzied activity in collecting all kinds of leaves and flowers (For the religiously uninitiated, Lord Ganesha is worshipped with 22 different varieties of leaves), then follows the mandapam decoration where our creative juices take off. The festival morning starts off with a traditional oil bath that culminates in a eye-stinging shampoo (Kunkudikayaa or Shikkakai) and wearing the dhoti/kanduva. The entire family prepares for the arrival of the priest and everyone takes their place around the mandap. (Never knew why only males were to worship Ganesha--the only reason given to my wailing sister is that she gets her turn during Varalakshmi pooja where only she gets to decorate and worship). The pooja starts off with incantation to Lord Vinayaka (other name of Ganapathi) and the pooja follows. It ends with rendering of the 'Katha' (stories from the Skanda Puranas that tell the ominiscent power of Ganesha). The priest then partakes the wholy offering of 'OOndaraloo' (balls made of rice and lentils) and naivedyam. Its time for the festive lunch and with appetities at an alltime high, hungry stomachs relish the delicious semiya payasam, pulihora etc. etc. Totally exhausted souls slumber off into a deep afternoon siesta while the young and restless take off to the streets to show off their new clothes. The evening marks visits to friends houses (tradition has it that one needs to visit at least 7 ganeshas) while religious (and celluloid) songs render the air and every street bears a colorful lfestive ook. Crowds throng to see the big ganeshas (such as the one in Khairatabad) and a lively discussion follows on which area had the biggest ganesha. As the last rays of the setting sun take leave of the city, its time for dinner and bid adieu to Lord Ganesha. Epilogue: For those who are in India and aspire to work and live in the US, for whom a pair of levis, nikes, hondas or toyotas mean everything, remember this...it comes at a price, a price of not living life at its fullest, of being in a country that you shall never identify with, of missing your family and friends, of missing the festival exuberance that is so integral to our culture....Make sure you fully comprehend this before the flight takes off Begumpet...

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