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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Ganesha accepts offerings after consecration

Yesterday Dr. Upreti and his wife came to Grinnell to perform a Pavitrotsavam and Homam for the Hindu deity, Ganesha. These rituals re-invited the God back to our statue, offered flowers, fruits, and warmth to the God, and blessed the space and the participants.

Ganesha. Photograph by Marfa Prokhorova.

Although the statue of Ganesha has been on our campus for over a decade (between Noyce and the Forum), it served more as a work of art than as a place of worship. Members of the Hindu religious community petitioned for a Mandap, or house, for the God.

Deanna Shorb, who spearheaded the movement, was happy when Dr. Kington gave her the go-ahead to build Ganesha the proper structure. “Just do it,” was Kington’s reply.

Dr. Upreti came from Madrid, Iowa where he is a priest at the Hundu Temple and Cultural Center of Iowa.

The ceremony began and Dr. Upreti lit candles around Ganesha.

“Power cannot come without fire”, said Upreti, “We believe fire is also a God, we hope the God will take our offerings to the fire.

Dr. Upreti chanted the many different names of Ganesha, praised the God, and blessed the attendants. He built a fire with broken coconut pieces and numerous aromatic herbs.

Next he sprinkled and then poured water from a copper pot with flowers in it over Ganesha, ritualistically washing and cleaning Ganesha before drying the deity with a towel.

Finally the priest dressed Ganesha by wrapping him in a yellow cloth, a sash of orange string, and a red scarf. Dr. Upreti placed flowers around Ganesha’s head and dabbed orange and red paste on the God’s brow and trunk.

At this point Dr. Upreti invited the audience to come stand in front of the alter. Most of the attendants removed their shoes. They washed their hands with the water that was used to wash Ganesha and then dotted their foreheads with ash from the fire.

First and second-year students from India comprised most of the groups of students in attendance and they appreciated being able to continue their religious traditions in their new Iowa home.

“I was surprised that we have the Ganesha statue, it was really good that the school is trying to do a lot for it” said Henna Jobanputra ’14.

“I hope that other students have respect for the statue,” said Ankita Sarawagi ’14.
And Shorb agreed, “Now that the God is installed I hope that students will begin a regular relationship with him”.

Those who visit Ganesha are encouraged to bring an offering for the god. He enjoyed sweet and shiny things, particularly laddu (modakam in sanskirt), a traditional Indian candy made of flour milk and sugar.

“We believe that you do not have to bring something specific [to Ganesha] but anything you offer to the God becomes holy,” said Sarawagi.

Next time you walk between Noyce and South Forum take a moment to visit Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.

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