Ganesha Festival 2011: An annual Indian celebration in Paris
Photo credit: Stephane
Imagine the sight of women wearing vivid red, turquoise and saffron colored saris, the cloyingly sweet smell of jasmine combined with the slightly rancid smell of coconut oil and the rhythmic sounds of Indian flutes and drums and you'll have an idea of how it felt to be at the Ganesha Festival yesterday. Absolutely amazing! Even though I've lived in a couple of countries where people observe Indian holidays, like Diwali and Holi, this was the first time that I've had the opportunity to see the festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. Ganesha, the son of the goddess Parvati and the great Lord Shiva, is worshipped by Hindus in India and much of Asia. His elephant head symbolizes the macrocosm or the divine, while his human body represents the microcosm or the individual human.
According to the description of the event on the Paris website, the annual procession attracts 25,000 people, both the faithful and the curious. The parade is lead by a group of pipers, drummers and frenzied dancers, who whirl and twirl to the music. Coconuts are broken along the route. The shell of the coconut symbolizes the illusion of the world, the flesh represents the Karma of an individual, and the coconut water is the human ego. By breaking the shell of a coconut, one offers their heart to Lord Ganesha.
Since this was a big event with lots of photo opportunities, I'm posting more pictures than normal. Scroll through, enjoy and click on the ones that you would like to enlarge. Even better, find some Indian music on YouTube and listen to it while looking at the photos so that you'll feel like you're in India. That's exactly how I felt yesterday!
Many thanks to Kerouac2 for telling me about the Ganesha Festival and for encouraging me "to go wild" and post lots of photos.