My first Ganesh, or Ganesha, was bought in the Sarasbaug Ganesh Temple in Pune, south of Mumbai. We went there together with our friends Girish, Sanjay and Mandar a few years back. It’s a small Ganesh, tiny, probably made of beetle nut. I thought it would represent a good memory from a nice day!
Ganesha is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu pantheon. He is closely associated with the daily lives of millions of Hindus even today. As he is reputed to be a remover of obstacles he is propitiated before the beginning of any new venture whether it is the building of a new house, the writing of a book, the beginning of a journey or the starting of a new business. His images adorn the walls of innumerable business establishments across India. Ganesha is also the God of wisdom and prudence.
My second Ganesha is the one that looks like marzipan. I feel like setting my teeth in it….. It reminds me of our nicely decorated Christmas marzipan! This one I got from Fadderbarnas fremtid, a small reward for having recruited new sponsors!
If Norway has trolls, India has Ganesha…. At least in some places. In Colaba causeway, Mumbai, the pedestrian market is full of this figure. In every size and material. You easily get hooked. Ganesha is represented as a short, pot-bellied man with yellow skin, four arms and an elephant’s head with only one tusk. In his four hands he customarily holds a shell, a chakra (discus), a mace and a water-lily. His unusual steed is a rat. Although not every copy includes all this.
Last year, I bought several items. I remember a shop in Colaba. I remember it because the shop assistants seemed so dull and depressed. They didn’t seem very interested in the customers, and almost every item was on sale. I felt I had to buy something, as some sort of support… Maybe I was wrong. Maybe they were all having a bad day and couldn’t care less about customers. But I bought a couple of silk paintings, they cost next to nothing. Two elephants and one Ganesha.
Our last day in Mumbai was going to be long. The plane wasn’t due to leave until 3.30 in the morning. We were ready and packed by noon. We set out to walk and in the early evening we spent some hours at a restaurant overlooking Marine Drive and the Arabian Sea. We saw the sunset at Marine Drive, the very best thing to do in Mumbai…
We had planned to have our last meal at Leopold, but Asbjørn’s youngest sister wasn’t happy with the fact that she still hadn’t found any nice pillow covers… so when we saw a shop window filled with them, we entered. The two Ganeshas I bought here, will forever remind me of my encounter with Gregory David Roberts who wrote Shantaram. We left the shop at an exact moment: the moment “Shantaram” was ready-set-go on his motorbike, outside Leopold. Because the shop was right opposite Leopold, – we were crossing the street zig-zagging between cars when I saw him – and said hello. If we had spent two more minutes in this shop, he would have been left. I’m still wondering about whether it was luck, fate – or whatever…
At birth, Ganesha was a perfectly normal boy, with perfect features and body parts, as befits one conceived by a goddess. How he got an elephant’s head is another story.Or, several stories, so it seems….
Wedding invitations in India are very elaborate, and very often comes with the image of Ganesha. A new start in life… The photo below is not from a wedding invitation, although I have a few now now – but it’s a card from a young girl I met in Raigad. I have never been able to put the card away. I like the way the head is depicted!
My favourite Ganesha is still to be bought, but I have an idea where it might happen.