Curated By: Nibandh Vinod
Last Updated: September 21, 2023, 17:27 IST
GANESH CHATURTHI 2023: The vibrant Indian community in New Plymouth, a city on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, had a reason to rejoice as they came together to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi. The annual festivities were organized under the benevolent umbrella of the New Plymouth Ashtavinayak Group, formed by Maharashtrian families who had made this serene city their home. This year marked the fifth consecutive year of their joyous celebration, and they had something special in store.
This year’s Ganesh festival had a special theme that filled the hearts of the Indian community with pride – India’s triumphant launch of Chandrayaan 2. The theme was meticulously brought to life with the creation of a detailed replica of the moon, complete with a lifelike lander and rover alongside the Chandrayaan rocket. It was a labour of love that took almost a month and a half to complete.
What made it even more remarkable was that everything, from the moon to the idols, was crafted from recycled materials. In fact, the Ganpati idol itself was made of 80% paper that had been imported from India three years ago and was reused every year.
WELCOMING LORD GANESHA
Lord Ganesha, the beloved elephant-headed deity, was welcomed with a grand miravnuk procession that featured enthusiastic dancing and soul-stirring singing. The atmosphere was electric with the energy of the Indian diaspora coming together to celebrate their shared culture. For the next five days, the community indulged in a plethora of cultural activities that showcased the rich tapestry of Indian traditions.
Every year, a family is selected to perform the Ganpati staphana pooja, and this year it was conducted by Sai and Ankita Rane from Mumbai.
5 DAYS OF CELEBRATION
One of the central rituals of the celebration was the daily arti, performed twice a day with each family taking turns to offer their prayers and share prasad. Prasad, a blessed offering, was an integral part of the festivities, and every family ensured that it was served with love and devotion every day. The celebrations also included skits performed by children, bhajan sessions that resonated with devotion, and group dances that enthralled the onlookers.
CELEBRATING MARATHI CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
The New Plymouth Ashtavinayak Group, the driving force behind this spectacular celebration, was founded by Raj Khadilkar and Ashwini Wakle. Ashwini, although now residing in Australia, remained an inspiration to the group’s endeavours. This dynamic duo had ignited the spark of cultural preservation in the hearts of their fellow expatriates, and together, they had kindled a sense of belonging that transcended geographical boundaries.
The group had come a long way since its inception around six years ago when only a handful of Maharashtrian families resided in the city.
Over the years, their numbers had swelled to include 15-20 families, and they decided to unite to celebrate all aspects of Marathi culture. From Gudi Padwa to Ganpati, their festive fervour reached its zenith during Ganesh Chaturthi. The event attracted not just the local Indian community but also curious New Zealanders who were eager to experience the coluorful festivities.
VIBRANT INDIAN COMMUNITY
New Plymouth, with its population of 90,000, was the perfect canvas upon which this vibrant Indian community painted their cultural expressions. In their celebrations, they not only paid homage to their roots but also embraced the diversity and inclusivity that their new home, New Zealand, offered. The Ganesh Chaturthi celebration was a testament to the enduring spirit of the Indian diaspora and their ability to bridge continents and cultures through the power of tradition, unity, and love.