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Hindu festival honors Ganesh in Flushing

By Bill Parry

Several thousand worshipers passed through the Hindu Temple of North America, at 45-57 Bowne St., in Flushing over the weekend to pray to the elephant-headed deity Ganesh.

Colorful processions, ceremonies and prayer rituals called poojas celebrate the birth and rebirth of Ganesh Chaturthi, the God of Knowledge and Prosperity.

“This festival is celebrated around the world,” the temple’s president, Dr. Uma Mysorekar, said. “Wherever there are Hindus, there is tribute to the deity with the Fire Ceremony, where sweets, lentils, nuts and dry fruit are offered.”

Also known as Lord Ganesha, the Destroyer of Obstacles, the festival promotes culture and patriotism and was once banned in India by the British. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadea, in mid-August to mid-September, and it is the grandest and most elaborate on the calender, lasting 10 days.

A model of Lord Ganesha is placed on platforms for people to view and pay homage. Priests dressed in dhotis invoke life into the idol while devotees chant in a ritual known as “pranapratishhta.”

On the 11th day, the idol is paraded through the streets and bathed in water, accompanied by singing and dancing. The final prayer acknowledges the divine is all who attend followed by a meal of sweet puddings and sweets.

Dramatic performances, meditation and lectures take place in tents that surround the temple and blood donations, free medical checkups and fund-raising for the are part as well.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr‌y@cng‌local.com or by phone at 718-260-4538

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