Our trip to SiddhiVinayak
We walked past one of the first open fields (only half was covered in grass) I have seen in central Bombay on our way to Sidhi Vanayak, home of the one of the most important Ganesh idols in India. Ganesh, half elephant, half man, is the Hindu god of auspiciousness. Luckily, it was not a Tuesday that we chose to go to the temple. On that holy day thousands of people would line up for hours to get their chance to look the idol in the eyes. We were sorted into different lines based on gender for the security check and walked into a bustling market of people selling flowers, coconuts, and grass (which I jokingly thought must have come from the bare field) to be blessed by the idol. After leaving our shoes with a vendor (because we could not wear shoes into the temple), Mr. Mundra bought us some baskets of items to be blessed. We paid and got in a fast track line to the inside of the temple, which saved us an hour of time we could have spent waiting in the free line. A little boy then came up to Mr. Mundra carrying little bundles of grass with flower belts and then the boy started to go down our line of students distributing the offerings. Although I felt like my own beliefs did not allow me to offer anything to the idol, I took one and then awkwardly passed it to the person behind me. Our line then began to noticeably curve as we circled the small temple to the center. As we rounded the corner to the entrance everything loudened. People crowed forward to look the golden Ganesh idol in the eye and give their offering to be blessed by the shirtless priests who deposited the offerings in front of then idol and then gave the newly blessed item back to the people. I crowed into the bunched people to see the idol. It sat a couple of feet tall, solid gold and adorned with hundreds of precious stones. Before too long I made my way out of the temple and into the larger building housing it.
I left the temple feeling a little confused, and I still felt a little awkward about choosing not to give an offering. On the bus ride back, though, I found another Niswarthian who was going through the same thing as me, and we sifted through our thoughts.