Hindu Temple celebrates birthday of Ganesha in Flushing

Hindu Temple celebrates birthday of Ganesha in Flushing
Photo by Steven Malecki
By Phil Corso

From blocks away, passersby could hear the music and see the crowds building outside of the Hindu Temple Society of North America’s Sri Mahavalaba Ganesha Temple in Flushing.

Hundreds gathered in excitement as a procession began, celebrating the birth of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god worshipped as a remover of obstacles and the embodiment of good luck in the Indian system of beliefs.

In the company of booming drums and joyous music, a large silver statue of Ganesha was brought out to an even larger silver chariot, all in celebration of a nine-day event capping off on Sunday afternoon outside the temple, at 45-57 Bowne St. A parade then circled the temple, marking the end of the celebration.

Joining in on the procession and festivities were City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and city Comptroller John Liu, who sported religious garb while taking part in the sunny afternoon of celebration.

“These last nine days have been a great function for us,” said Geeta Dey, a volunteer at the temple. “We are here to celebrate the great god of learning and wisdom, and nothing has stopped us. It has been an amazing event.”

Dey sat inside a tent near the temple Sunday afternoon collecting donations to both raise money for the temple’s ongoing expansion and to help an effort to feed all those in attendance. Behind Dey’s donation table sat tables stacked with containers of traditional food, filling the stomachs of the hundreds of celebrators.

“We are sad that it is coming to an end after today,” she said.

In Hindu culture, it is common to pray to Ganesha first, who is also the main deity of the Flushing temple. According to those at the temple, Ganesha represents the universality of creation and serves as the presiding deity of the entire group.

“This is a huge function where people come together to meet and share their joyful moods with each other,” said Kannan Sharma, another volunteer and member of the temple enjoying the afternoon’s events. “Everyone comes out to be carefree and to dress in beautiful new clothes.”

Outside the temple, tents housed another celebration where those in attendance would remove their shoes, enjoy meals together and peruse various vendors selling goods in collaboration with the festivities of the day. Ganesha-themed trinkets were also on full display, bringing home the theme of the entire celebration.

“It is all in good fun,” Sharma said. “What a beautiful day it is to be able to share this with everyone here.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.