Ganesh Festival

Jan Leeming

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Date: 8th January 2016

One of the Hindu Gods which seemed most prominent in Jaipur was Ganesh - the Elephant God. Again, I have to say that it would be virtually impossible for me to accurately précis an explanation so I suggest you go to Wikipedia.

We were fortunate enough to be in Jaipur at the time of the Ganesh Festival. In the early evening we were taken to the Temple of Ganesh. Across the road from the Temple we bought our offerings for the God and on entering the Temple grounds took off our shoes. We had quite a distance to cover and I don't think my feet have ever been so dirty! On arriving at the Temple we pulled a cord which rang a large bell and this is supposed to dispense one's transgressions. You join the queue to give your offerings to the Priests who then dispense the ubiquitous Marigold garlands. You can say a prayer or even make a full obeisance on the floor and then you leave.

Then came the exciting part of returning to the City and waiting by one of the arches - waiting for the arrival of the procession. I'm not that tall and at one point the cry went up, here they come and I found myself jumping up and down like an excited child - only to realise that what I thought was the Howdah on the back of the elephant was actually a bunch of Helium balloons!

The procession comprised eleven elephants, six camels and four horses all beautifully caparisoned in heavily brocaded cloth of gold. Eventually the procession reached us and our production team had gained permission for us to walk in front of the elephants who were also decorated with what we were assured was non toxic paint. I can't tell you how exciting it is to walk with these giant majestic and gentle creatures.

Whilst we were walking a groom indicated that I could mount one of the horses. I have never ridden in my life but the pace was so sedate that I wasn't going to miss the opportunity. It is something I will remember forever. I don't know if the crowd thought I was someone special but they were all holding up their hands to touch mine and holding up their babies to me. I felt incredibly honoured, humbled, and close to tears. What a wonderful experience.


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