Today is Ananta Chaturdashi. Keeping with the Ganesha mood, today I am posting the interview of a priest (a prominent disciple of the Palimaru Matha Swamiji) from Shree Balaji Temple on the Ganesha they brought to the temple for the Ganeshotsav celebrations. All about the temple can be seen at the other end of this link: http://ajournalistreveals.com/shree-balaji-sannidhi/
Over to a tête-à-tête with Acharya Shri Raman Kalkur:
Do you bring Ganapathy every year?
We have been bringing a Ganapathi for every Ganeshotsav for the last 3 years. We are celebrating the fourth year of the temple this year. Within 10 days of installing the temple, the Ganeshotsav arrived in the first year and we have been celebrating it since then.
Being a south Indian, we do not have this kind of celebration. Lokamanya Tilak preached about it in Maharashtra for a unified response against the British. What inspired you to participate in Ganeshotsav?
We have come to live in Maharashtra so we should accept their culture too. We should live the way they live here. Here they celebrate Ganeshotsav in an elaborate way, so we will also celebrate it in their way. We have also included our traditions in the celebrations. We do deeparadhana here in the evening. Anywhere in Maharashtra no deeparadhana can be seen. When they see it and realise its importance, they will also start doing it. Our Ganesha has not been painted on. It is made up of papier mâché and mud. On it we have used only turmeric and kumkum as colour. No chemical colours have been used on it. Ours is a non-polluting Ganapathi. And it is light weight, It weighs only 150 grams.
Who made this idol of Ganesha that you have brought this time? How did you select this design?
There is an idol maker in Bhayandar, who has made it for us. Every year he is the one who makes our idols. Last year after the visarjan of the idol, we had visited him to order one for this year. At that time he had shown the different designs, which were available and we selected this one from them. Every year we select different designs. Though we have not seen God, the scriptures have mentioned how Lord Ganesha looks. The idol-maker should follow those rules. We have recently seen one idol like a Kargil soldier with a rifle. It follows the feelings of the devotees. But you cannot perform pooja to these idols because Ganapathi will not go to fight that way.
Where will you do the visarjan of this Ganapathy?
We will be consigning it to the water at Shivar Garden, which is nearby.