On the eve of this Ganesh Chaturthi, I was given a delightful bit of homework by a Thai devotee of Vinayaka. He had an artwork of Ganesha in Devanagari calligraphy with names like 'Gajanan', 'Ekadanta' and so on assembled to form a sitting Ganesha, complete with mouse and modak platter. This gentleman knows Hindi but since some of the letters in the corners were rather smudged, he asked me to write all the names out for him in Roman (the English alphabet script). This pleasant task turned into a litany and a prayer and I thought how nice it felt to be writing out Ganesha's names before his 'birthday'.
Indeed, when I look at all the Ganesha shrines around in Bangkok, I marvel at how beautifully maintained they are with pretty offerings of fresh jasmine and marigolds, incense and good things to eat and drink. I've even spotted handmade birthday cards left by his devotees for Ganesh Chaturthi and there are thirty-two forms (darshan) of Ganesha known in Thailand, much more, I think, than we in India may know. I've been muttering 'sitting Ganesh, standing Ganesh, crawling baby Ganesh, dancing Ganesh, Ganesh going walkies with an umbrella, Ganesh speeding on the mouselet, Ganesh eating a laddoo, Ganesh with his two ladies, Riddhi and Siddhi, 'Diwali Ganesh' next to Mahalakshmi showering gold coins, Ganesh on his mommy's lap, Ganesh at playschool on Kailash with kid brother Kartikeya, Ganesh in formal First Family portrait with bro and parents Shiva-Parvati (who also happen to be ours),' … and that's only a dozen. Please will you mail if you think of more, not that it's a competition, I'm just so curious now. Loads of darshan or not, I know that lots of us collect Ganesha compulsively and go on collecting him in wood, marble, silver, gold, amethyst, coral, lapis lazuli, malachite, peridot and celadon, Lalique, porcelain, dear dark granite and lovely terracotta.
My big cousin's wife in Bangalore calls Ganesha 'Gappu' and there's no place to put a teacup down in her house because Ganesha has taken over every available inch of space that's useful in everyday life. I'm sorry if we sound like twee heaven, but Ganesha does have that effect, I mean, it's not just us. As for me, take my granny's diamond ear-rings (if you must) but don't you go near my mother's battered old wooden Ganesha, that's mine.