Authentic Indian tradition and rituals mark Ganeshotsav 2013 in the UK

Archana Venkatraman

Like every year, in 2013 too, UK Indians are pulling all stops to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganeshotsav (Ganesh festival) with a complete line-up of tradition, rituals and cultural festivities for the full ten days of the festival.

Ganpati murti and traditional decoration at Slough Mitra Mandal's Ganpati celebration last year
Ganpati murti and traditional decoration at Slough Mitra Mandal's Ganpati celebration last year

Ganesh Chaturthi this year falls on Monday, 9 September and Indian, especially Maharashtrian community organisations across the UK are busy arranging for Ganesh Pratisthapana, aartis, bhajans, entertainment and cultural programmes, prashaad, and traditional Ganpati visarjan (immersion) for the ten-day festivities. Local councilors are expected to participate in the festivities too to cheer and laud the Indian community’s efforts to recreate Ganesh Chaturthi magic in the UK.

Ganeshotsav, while celebrating Lord Ganesha’s birth, also brings local communities together through ten days of cultural activities in Maharashtra -- as envisaged by social reformer Lokmanya Tilak. It is also used to spread social and political messages with theme-based public Ganpati set-ups.

Aimed at making the Indian community feel at home away from home, UK’s Indian associations and temple founders plan Ganesh festival every year.

This year, the Hounslow Ganeshotsav Mandal is hosting Ganpati celebrations on September 9 at the popular Laxmi Narayan Temple in Hounslow for the sixth consecutive year. The two-day event will see Lord Ganesha’s idol arriving on Monday, followed by poojas, darshan, traditional entertainment and food. Recreating the authentic Ganeshotsav magic in India, the idol will be carried in coaches to Chiswick Boat House for a visarjan on Tuesday. The Hounslow celebrations will attract thousands of London Indians.

The Ganpati celebrations in the UK have been so vibrant for many years that it has earned the nickname of Hounslow cha Raja reminiscing the Lalbaug cha Raja magic.

Another association, the Maharashtra Mandal London, is holding a grand ten-day Ganeshotsav 2013 celebrations in Dollis Hill, Cricklewood like every year. While the rituals of Ganesh sthapana, aartis and darshan is scheduled for all ten days, MML’s event will also see speeches and cultural programmes with Councillor Bobby Thomas, Mayor of Brent; Southall MP Virendra Sharma; and Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North participating at the event. The Ganesh visarjan procession is scheduled for 2pm on Wednesday, 18 September on a coach to the iconic Thames river.

First day of Ganpati 2013 at Slough Mitra Mandal
First day of Ganpati 2013 at Slough Mitra Mandal

Further west, the Slough Mitra Mandal has planned a Sarvajanik Ganesh Festival 2013 at the Slough Hindu Temple. This will be the organisation’s third Ganeshotsav event. The week-long festival will begin on Sunday, 8 September and conclude on Saturday, 14 September.

 Cultural entertainment at Slough Mitra Mandal for Ganesh festival
Cultural entertainment at Slough Mitra Mandal for Ganesh festival

The event will include a charity fundraising activity, competition for kids, clay Idol-making competitions and decoration competitions.

Ganesh murthy at Sai Dham Nottingham
Ganesh murthy at Sai Dham Nottingham

Another Indian community organisation continuing its Ganeshotsav celebrations for full ten days is Sai Dham temple in Nottingham. The event will feature kavi sammelan, anandmela, talent shows, Bollywood-style entertainment and competitions alongside the religious festivities.

Cultural activities at Sai Dham Nottingham during Ganesh utsav 2013 celebrations
Cultural activities at Sai Dham Nottingham during Ganesh utsav 2013 celebrations

Reading’s Marathi Mandal too is organising its Ganesh Chaturthi event for September 14 for an all-day event at Maiden Place Community Centre in Earley including pooja, traditional Indian lunch, and entertainment programmes for an entry fee of £10 per adult.

In other parts of the country too Indians will not be far away from the Ganeshotsav celebrations. The Hindu Temple of Scotland is organising a Gowri/Ganesh pooja on September 8.

Marathi Mandal associations in Ilford and Midlands will also host similar celebrations for Ganeshotsav 2013 in the UK.

If you are organising or participating in Ganeshotsav celebrations in the UK, we would love to hear from you. Write to us and share your pictures at editor@indianewsbulletin.com.

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