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28 October 2014

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Ganesh in the temple
The idol of Lord Ganesh in the temple

Ganesh Utsav 2005

By BBC Leeds' Roopa Rajani
Well, it's not exactly Chawpatty beach in Mumbai, but Scarborough's South Bay was the chosen scene for the Leeds' Hindu community to celebrate Ganesh Utsav 2005.

As coach loads of people descended on South Pier, many onlookers wondered what was going on…

The festivities for Ganesh Utsav lasted for five days, and were celebrating the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the Elephant Headed God. Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati, and is known as the remover of obstacles and the patron of good luck. Ganesh's actual birthday (Ganesh Chaturthi) was on Wednesday, where members of the Leeds Hindu Community gathered at the Temple on Alexandra Road, for an evening of singing, dancing and prayers (puja), and that's just the start of the festivities! Over the days, the temple was host to a variety of activities and festivities inspired by the events in India to celebrate the festival, some of which included bhajans (hymn singing), lectures from Swamijis, quizzes and games.

Ganesh Utsav 2005
Taking part in the aarti competition

On Saturday, the younger members of the temple were given a treat, as it was their turn to take part in the festivities. Many children arrived at the temple armed with their colouring pencils as they took part in the drawing competitions and also the mythological character fancy dress competition. Everyone made an effort to join in, and were rewarded with a magic show which kept most of the children entertained, whilst mum and dad had the chance to relax at the back of the hall… after all, everyone had been celebrating for the past three days!

Saturday evening saw the aarti competition, which is the decoration of a plate, on which is placed a wick, dipped in ghee (purified butter), which is lit and then offered to God to dispel darkness. Great efforts were made to see who would win first prize… and I do have to say, as one of the judges, the level of entry was very good! The evening ended with the prize giving, and then the aarti ceremony followed by prashad (holy offerings).

Sunday was the big day… people started arriving from 9am ready for their trip to Scarborough for the main part of the festival, which is the Visarajan - this is when the idol of Lord Ganesh is immersed into the sea, so that it can be back with the elements. The reason for this is that the idol is made of clay, and so when it is put into the sea, through natural processes, the idol disintegrates and turns into earth, so we reuse it - it's like the circle of life - similar to reincarnation some would say. So, clad in colourful outfits, members of the temple performed the final ceremonies at the temple and then carried out the idol, whilst others sang, danced and eagerly joined in the celebrations by throwing coloured powders over the onlookers. They even managed to get the coach drivers involved!

Ganesh Utsav 2005
Narhari Joshi carries the idol

As the coaches made their way down the A64 to Scarborough, spirits were high amongst all. As the police escort joined us just on the outskirts of Scarborough, the mood was unmistakably exciting. Onlookers on the pier were slightly amazed at the number of people, and the amount of noise they could make as nothing was going to stop them now! Two boats were filled with lively and excited followers and so the trip began. In the first boat, the Pujariji (priest) started the rituals and the singing carried on.

Not even the rough sea was enough to stop some of the crowds, as the boat battled to take us out to sea. The youngsters loved the trip, as they sat out on the deck and tried to avoid getting wet, whilst the older members moved underneath to stay warm and dry!

Finally, the big moment came, and it was time for the Visarajan. As people crowded to see the event, the second boat positioned itself to allow its passengers witness the big moment. And there it went. The idol was lowered into the sea and was followed by chants of 'Ganpati Bapa Moriya, Pudcha Varshi Laukarya' which means 'O Victorious Lord Ganpati, Return Early Next Year'.

If you missed it, here it is again, the big moment - the Visarajan of Lord Ganesh:
video Video clip of the immersion of the idol >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

The boats then turned around and took everyone back to the pier. Apart from a few green faces, and some very very wet kids, the trip was successful. The community appreciated the chance to be part of such an event, as it was the first time in the north that such an event has taken place. The coaches then went to a nearby park for a picnic, and then headed back for Leeds.

More on the event:
See pictures from Ganesh Utsav 2005 >
audio Listen to Roopa's report for BBC Radio Leeds >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer
last updated: 12/09/05
Have Your Say
Were you on the trip to Scarborough on Sunday? Or did you see hundreds of Hindus celebrating on South Pier? Tell us what you think…
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Rudra Narayan Garnaik
Nice to saw the report on ganesh puja on BBC. Thanx a lot to the reporter. Rudra

Narendra Rao
It was my first experience of celebrating Ganesh Ustav in abroad. It was a really magnificent event

Rajesh Pore
Great to know that Lord Ganesh Festival is celebrated in UK with such an enthusism

Rajiv Thukral
I live in Leeds and it is a shame we only have 1 temple and alot of mosques and a few churches in Harehills. How come there is not another temple in Leeds and near Harehills as I pray at home because the nearest one for me (being a hindu) is in LS6 and I am in LS8 I think more should be done for our asian community, we should debate and have a local meeting.

does anyone know the address of the temple and is it open to the public all the time

Nikhil Chavan
I am interesting to know the address of Hindu temple were this festival is happen. So that I can also participate in festival in future,

Hey nice article it really helped

Bijal Shah
Great thing done by the organisers of this event. Keep up the wonderful work.

Ricegrain Venkatesh
happy to read on LEEDS GANESH, i am really impressed by the activities of LEEDS HINDU TEMPLE. It has got a good TEAM of ORGANISERS and BHAKTAS. All the best.

Gautam Dalal
i was one of the marshal's there. my first experience of witnessing Ganesha immersion abroad. could see the best of both worlds . The Enthu of the hindu's and the discipline that prevailed.. looking forward for the next festival soon

It was nice to see so many Hindus celebrating in orderly maner by the sea side town. Thanking you for giving us all the information

A.B.Ghare, Mumbai, India
There is a mention of mythological charactor fancy dress competition for children, but no photographs are displayed. I would love to see the tiny tots dressed up as various avataars.

saurabh panhale
very good stuff, keep it up guys,its a great way to socialize and i hope you use environment friendly material for making the idols to prevent polution during emersion. cheers, saurabh panhale, mumbai,india

madz,nikz, and samz
no we were not but we came on this website because for our religion project we had to build a holy place of a diferent religion. can u send us info about a golden temple please asap. xxxxx

Ram Vaidya
i attended the first day of the festival. it was really joyful atmosphere with auspicious values behind it.

Versha Bachetta
Having been born and bought up in England I was really proud to see this festival celebrated in this way, the scale of our Religous celebrations have been no where near as grand as celebrations in India and other East Asian countries, it is brilliant to know that communities in England are getting together and raising awareness in England and the showing the younger members of the Hindu Community what our festivals are really about.

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