I love festivals. Simply because it embraces art as a part of tradition. Be it a 'Pookalam' for Onam, a 'Kolam' for Pongal or decorating the Christmas tree. The festivals impart endless possibilities in art and cooking. Maybe this is what our culture is all about, the richness of art and cuisine interwoven with tradition!
So this Ganesh Chathurthi, I decided to make my own little Ganesha. An eco friendly Ganesha. After scouring through a couple of websites for an eco-friendly Ganesha making procedure, I stumbled on this page by Wodooz which had a detailed step by step procedure complete with pictures. And off I go!
It was a fairly easy experience. I had to secure the parts with toothpicks to get the structure firm before it set completely. After drying a few hours in the Sun, it was ready to be painted. I chose to coat it with Turmeric paste and apply a kum kum Tilak. And then I was reminded about the customary kodai (the umbrella) for the Ganesha.
After hunting for one that suits my Ganesha I was fairly disappointed at the varieties available at the roadside stall. I got down to making my own little kodai with an inverted cane basket embellished with sequins. A chopstick for the handle completed the kodai making process.
I arranged my Ganesha with his little handmade Kodai, and trust me, I did see a twinkle in his eye. He was mighty pleased! He appeared rather cute with his pot belly and the tiny modak in his left hand completed the frame. There was something special about this one. Was it the teddy bear like charm, the softness, or the sheer empathy of an art lover who just gave the gooey shapeless paper mache a form. One look at him and I knew he was special. This is going to be a special day!
So I mustered up and prepared all three specialty dishes made for Ganesh Chathurthi. Pongal (which is like a rice kheer/payasam made with jaggery), Kozhukatta (the south variant of a modak) and Sundal (chick pea salad).
This was a record breaker for a novice like me!
He was ready after a few days in the sun. I placed him with the customary 'Durva' grass and 'Erukku' flowers. As he sits there, content with his favorite dishes, I smile at the irony of life. While we worship the papermache elephant deity, what happens to those elephants whom we bribe for blessings? Do they get their fair share too on this very day?
So there goes one down my bucket list. You don't get to see an elephant roam on the road, but next year, I am going to hunt down one to give him a share of the delicacies. Its on!
Let there be food, peace and happiness for all! Ganapati Bappa Morya!