With the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in full swing, our attention is turned to the wonderful spectacles, fun and food that makes this occasion so special. Signalling the start of the festival is the jingling of bells alongside chants of “Jaidev Jaidev Jai Mangal Murti, Darshanmajhe man kamanapurati, Jaidev Jaidev’. And there are plenty of other rituals taking place throughout this 11-day festival.
Other customs that play a part include the elaborately decorated statues of Ganesha that appear in many houses. Anyone who has a statue of Lord Ganesha in their home must treat it with the same respect as they would an esteemed guest. Offerings of sweets, rice, coconut, jaggery, flowers and coinsare made to these statues and prayers are offered every day.
Ganesh Chaturthi honours the birth of the revered Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. It is predominantly celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. One city that makes a wonderful show of these celebrations is Mumbai. The Siddhivinayak Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is the focal point for a multitude of worshippers during the course of the festival. There are also around 10,000 statues of Lord Ganesha dotted across the city.
Dishes that are typically cooked during this extravaganza are generally vegetarian and served on a banana leaf. Perhaps the food that plays a central role in the festival are modaks – not least because they are believed to have been Lord Ganesha’s favourite thing to eat. Modaks are sweet dumplings that are popular in western and southern states. The outer shell is made from rice flour and is soft to the touch. Encased inside you will find a wonderfully sweet mix of fresh grated coconut and jaggery. During the course of the festival the puja (prayer ritual) always finishes with an offering of 21 modaks to the god. There are a number of variations on the traditional modak recipe including chocolate and banana flavours.
Lord Ganesha is always portrayed with a sweet in his hand and a slight paunch, so it is little wonder legend has it he had a sweet tooth. He has long been associated with not just sweets, but delicious food in general. Other savoury foods that are often eaten during Ganesh Chaturthi include majjige (spiced buttermilk); kosambari (a salad made from split lentils and seasoned with mustard seeds); bhajis; Mysore sambar and more.
An inherent part of Indian culture is the cooking and offering of food to the gods to keep them happy. Food is always connected with festivals and celebrations and Ganesh Chaturthi is no different. A delicious meal just adds to the fun and excitement of the occasion.
If you are keen to get out and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in style, what better place than at one of London’s popular Indian brasseries? With their buzzing atmosphere, delicious food, Indian-inspired décor and welcoming and friendly staff, a meal at any one of the six city branches is a great way to mark any celebration. Hurry, it ends on 8 September.