It brings an immense joy to report that we celebrated Pancha Ganapati for the first time in the UK. A few weeks ago, the management committee of Shree Ghanapathy Temple approached us requesting details on how to celebrate Pancha Ganapati at the temple. This has been an aspiration of the temple for a few years and they were prompted this year by a devotee who approached them with the Nov/Dec 2001 Hinduism Today Publishers Desk article "Daddy, Do We Get Toys for Christmas Too?". Thanks to the wonderful advice from mathavasis at the Aadheenam, we were able to plan a suitable series of festivities which brought Pancha Ganapati to London-bringing the essence of this joyous home festival alive in the hearts of many Hindus.
Shree Ghanapathy Temple is blessed with a wide ranging group of devotees including Saivites, Smartas and Vaishnavites so it felt the perfect place to have the first Pancha Ganapati celebrations, all under the watchful Gaze of our beloved Lord Ganesha. In the entrance hall of the temple stands a bronze Ganesha, originally from Bangalore, who is beautiful and even without consecration is full of sakti. He was perfect to be the centre of our Pancha Ganapati celebrations, catching the eye of devotees as they passed the temple threshold daily.
In preparation for the celebration, the children of the temple painted a vibrant kolam in the colours celebrated during Pancha Ganapati and this was later embellished by Geetha Maheshwaran, one of the temple's management committee members who was the driving force behind manifesting these celebrations and worked tirelessly during the five days.
Everyday we dressed Him in the wonderful colours of the day and presented sweets, fruits and incense just as Gurudeva describes in the Hinduism Today article. It was a great way to perform sivathondu as daily we spoke with florists picking out choice fresh flowers to accompany our beloved Lord and the temple sivacharyas lovingly dressed Him in beautiful clothing-which always seemed to match the flowers perfectly…Ganesha Himself manifested all we needed to ensure He looked radiant everyday. He brought smiles to many faces!
In the evenings of the five days of celebrations, we had a presentation cycle on Pancha Ganapati and spoke to those interested about the festival. We were humbled by the enthusiasm and love for this festival, with many commenting that it is great to have a festival that represents Hindu values during this holiday season whilst still harnessing the joys of gift giving and family togetherness. Devotees reverently took home printed copies of the 2001 Hinduism Today article on Pancha Ganapati and the current publishers desk article entitles 'Drawing Close to Ganesha'. Many nandris for the good timing of the latter, it complemented the message of getting to know our benevolent Lord during these five days and the spiritual practice of contacting Ganesha wherever one finds themselves-on the tube, office or at home-proved to be a wonderful new tool for many devotees to use. We had the joy of hearing stories of devotees who feel close to Ganesha and enjoying learning of a festival that celebrates Him so eloquently.
The children who visited the temple were stars of the celebration and embraced it wholeheartedly. For the first three days they painted a large picture of Pancha Ganapati complete with glitter and personal touches-it really let their innate creativity manifest and we are sure you will enjoy the results. On day 4, they wrote sayings and drew pictures relating to Ganesha and our great religion on green baubles and hung them on trees which lay either side of our Lord. Day 5, whilst Pancha Ganapati was looking ornate in orange, marked a wonderful afternoon of activities. During this time, children (and those young at heart!) coloured in pictures of Ganesha, manifested Ganesha in his physical form using play-doh and made Pancha Ganapati cards! As you will see from the photos, smiles were aplenty and these activities were supported by talking through His many loving features such as large ears to listen and pin point eyes to see detail. It was a real joy to see the wonderful ways in which children were connecting with Lord Ganesha.
It was five days of bringing Hindus of various sects together, in union with Lord Ganesha and enjoying celebrating this natural season of gift giving, love and harmony. It was clear that this year's celebration manifested through the Will of our Lord of Abundance…all our needs were very much met and as usual His timing was perfect.
Sincerest nandris for joining us in these celebrations, the love from the All at the Aadheenam and the international family was abundant and deeply felt, it was wonderful getting daily messages of love and inspiration spurring us forward during this first celebration here in the UK. The individual helps the group, and the group helps the individual-we are blessed to be part of such a loving and supportive family. We are humbled so many souls joined us through the inner planes providing much energy and vibrancy to Pancha Ganapati 2015. We lay all at the Holy Feet of our benevolent Lord, All is His Grace. All is His Perfect Dance.
Focus on being a soul, not the body, mind and emotions. When we think of ourselves as a soul we're able to move forward and get closer and closer to Siva. That's the whole idea of Saiva Siddhanta. A negative self-concept is an obstacle. We can change our self-concept through applying Gurudeva's teachings, affirming every day that we are a divine being. Vasana daha tantra: Going back and understanding experiences; clearing up the reactions to the past.