When I began my travels in India, I noticed that almost every car, rickshaw, bike, bus, home, shop ect. had a statue, sticker, cloth or some form of material that was printed with elaborate images of a shiny elephant. When I came to find out more about this image, I learned that many people in the Hindu tradition look to this particular god for protection, success and any form of safety in travel or new journeys, hence seeing many of them on the front of motorcycles and car dashboards. So when I began my motorcycle journey in India, I followed suit and got myself a sticker that I placed on the front of my bike.
For the next year, I was placed in situations on and off the road that most people from back home in the USA would feel life threatening. Swerving people crossing the road at top speed, coming centimeters away from being swept off the road by cars, buses and lori's (the indian 18 wheeler). I was stranded in secluded areas where my bike would break down, I even had a few accidents while traveling. But here I am, in one piece and the most that ever happened was a small cut or a bruise. For some reason, I always felt guided and protected on the journey and felt more safe then most of the roads back in the USA. Now this could be for many reasons, due to the fact that I always feel guided and protected, but, when I first passed a real live elephant crossing the road and captured the wisdom and depth in the beings eyes, the strength and grace in its movements, I felt there had to be some connection, physically and spiritually, and that is what a lot of the Hindu tradition is about.
Then I arrived in Mumbai, a few days before this Ganesh Chaturthi festival that I mentioned above. Something was pulsing when I arrived and when it started, people came in hoards and sang GANAPATI BAPA MORIYA on the streets, played loud music, drummed the night aways and sang songs to idols of many sizes all with the elephant god shape. Each one was unique with different dress, expression and style, almost tailored to the family, usually a family of 70 + members, that was hosting it. I could not help but get involved.
A dear friend invited me to his home for the celebrations and even let me carry the idol home (which is a great honor in the tradition) which immediately got me in the spirit of the whole festival. The next I tailored some hindi words and made my own mantra for the season and began sharing it will people from all walks of life and it was a huge hit!!
So now, almost 4 years later we are here in Mumbai celebrating the festival again. Later today I will go to the beaches where the immersions began and sing the night away with all the devotees, smiling and relishing in the gratitude that I feel for my connection to this Hindu God and India itself. To me, all of this is part of the joy of life, finding something you believe in, devoting time, words of prayer and love to it. So whether it is a hindu god, a book, a song, a relationship or a garden, our devotion keeps us alive, feeling high inside and I thank India, Hinduism and Mumbai for keeping that wonderful spirit alive!
Ganapati Bapa …. Moriya!!!!
Enjoy the song and journey and thank you always for your support and love.
You can thank Julie Isaacs for this incredible dipiction of the journey through her real life artistic style.
Here are a few more links about Ganesh and the holiday if you are interested ….