Ganesha Visarjana rides the devotional waves

By Vijay Badhwar

Ganesha Visarjana at the Sri Venkatesawara Temple in Helensburgh, started nearly three decades ago in Sydney, remains the premier religious event in the local Hindu calendar, nearly 10 thousand devotees attending the annual event. The festival has grown in popularity by each passing year.

The pujas commence early in the morning and as the day progresses the preparations start with circumambulation around the temple with the deity in a chariot. The men are dressed in whites and the women provide a contrast in colourful saris and laden with jewellery. There are scenes of high devotion as the devotees enthusiastically dance to the beat of drums. Ganapathy Baba Mauraya chants rant the air as do fistfuls of ”˜Gulal’ and a thick coating soon covers all hairs and faces that become hard to recognise.

The procession is led to Stanwell Park beach a few kilometres away, the buses orderly lining up to take the devotees to the ocean. The drums gather again leading the procession of several Ganeshas, some devotees carrying their own idols for immersion. The sky is dotted with colourful kites, flying enthusiasts hang-gliding from Stanwell Tops and landing occasionally on the grassy grounds before the sandy beach starts.

The ocean waves in the setting sun are getting bigger and there is chill in the air. But the devotees are keen to carry their idols deep into the sea. There is excitement as the idols are immersed to the loud chants of ”˜Ganapathy Baba Maurya’.

Those who had missed the delicious South Indian food earlier in the day come back for the last rounds of idilly, vadas and Sambhar, or just for a cup of hot coffee or tea after a hectic celebration.

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