Hello my fellow wanderlust addicted readers; welcome to 2018!
Today’s Travel Tuesday is a throwback to my first trip to India in 2011 and the wonder that is the Ganesh Festival.
Aren’t these kids adorable? My favorite is the boy to the right of the one in red with the drum. We had been in the old city of Pune, the area known as Laxmi Road. When Westerners think of Indian festivals, they usually think of big Indian weddings or Holi. They may also know of Diwali – the Festival of Lights.
My favorite festival (and one that will probably show up in my Travel Tuesday posts quite a bit) is Ganesh Chathurti. This festival lasts for eleven amazing days, starting with bringing Ganesh into the home, and ending with releasing him in a body of water.
This festival is eleven days of madness – pandals (stages) in the streets for people to pray to Ganesh, dancing, marching bands, powdered-paint fights, fire crackers, fire works, and more. Yes, you read that right – the streets are FULL of marching bands.
These marching bands are in front of the various family idols. The idols can be so large that they are transported down the street on flat-bed trailers, pulled by industrial tractors. It’s almost a competition to have the best ‘float’, the largest band, or the most elaborately decorated street pandal.
The celebrations are so large, they have to close down parts of the city to allow the processions through the streets. On a normal day in Pune, the area above would be a bustling market area in what was once the core of the city during colonialism.
I was lucky enough to see six Ganesh Festivals, and I loved the joy and energy of every single festival. If you are planning to attend, I recommend going in a group, or with a local, and dressing conservatively or in a salwar kameez. The core festivities are often in busy city centers surrounding local markets and areas of wholesale commerce. The crowds are extremely large as this is a major festival in the state of Maharashtra. While walking the streets, you will stand out as a westerner, and find yourself in the center of celebrations, pulled into crowds, grabbed, photographed, etc. If large energetic crowds are not for you, I would recommend viewing this event from afar.
Do you have any travels planned this year? I’d love you tell me where you’re going in the comments!
Also published on Medium.