on Sustainable Dignity (India), 02/Sep/2011 09:06, 34 days ago
Gina writes:Yesterday was a holiday to honor Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of knowledge and remover of obstacles. He's one of the head gods in Hinduism.SPREAD celebrated this holiday with a puja (religious ritual of blessing) in the office. I had witnessed this once before, for a holiday in January, but was excited for Corey to attend his first office puja.We arrived at about noon for the 11:30ish puja. Just before 3 p.m. the priest finally showed up! Apparently, he's in high demand on festival days, rushing from one engagement to the next. We had to wait until after the puja to eat lunch, so the rituals got underway immediately.All of the specific items were prepared and ready for the puja - milk with honey, sandalwood, certain leaves, colored powders, a squared mound of dirt, coconuts, fruits and sweets, and of course the Ganesh idol/statue. Bidyut, SPREAD's director, was dressed in traditional silk robes to perform the puja. The priest chanted and sang specific verses, while cuing Bidyut to perform actions at the right times.After about 15 minutes, my favorite part began. They built a fire right in the middle of the office! It got pretty big at one point.The fire itself was not a problem, since the floors are concrete and their aren't curtains or anything to catch on fire. However, the room became extremely smoky after about 10 minutes and it was really irritating to the eyes.The entire puja only took 1 hour, the perfect length! Here is the area after the rituals.We finally got to eat at 4 p.m. The food was pure veg, which means no onion and no garlic, but at the same time, was richer because of the use of ghee (clarified butter).I love this part of Indian work culture, because it's so different from Western ways. Imagine sitting down with your coworkers to perform a traditional ritual to bless your office space, books, computers, etc.!One last picture: a colleague's son, dressed in traditional Oriya garments of his very own size! So cute!