Ganeshpuri and our first Arati

As we left the airport, we headed through the busy streets of Mumbai, horn beeping at every opportunity (for instance, when a cow needs to move off the road or when behind a truck which has “Horn OK Please” painted in vibrant colors across the tailgate). We passed building sites where 10 storey buildings were being created around precarious structures of bamboo and rope scaffolding and calmly passed dogs and children wandering in the middle of the roads.

After a bit more than 2 hours, we arrived in a small village -  very rural and undeveloped, which seemed to have been built around this huge white temple which we soon identified as Baba Nityananda’s Samadhi shrine.  We were at Ganeshpuri…  We drove up into a property called Kothavalla and joined the others who had wrangled rides in the 4wds, along with Ma Devi and Swamiji, Swami Shankarananda.


Once the bus arrived, it was almost 12 noon and Swamiji couldn’t wait for us to go to the noon Arati at the temple.  Ma Devi advised that we should buy garlands to take in for Darshan so we hurriedly bought ‘offerings’ – fantastic garlands – probably a metre long, coiled on a tray with a coconut, some kum kum and small packet of sweets for 60 rupees (about 2AUD). We left our shoes with the flower sellers and headed inside.

Taking our seats cross legged on the floor of the temple, we didn’t know what to expect. At the front of the temple was a large gold statue of Bhagwan Nityananda piled with garlands and flowers.  The Brahmin priests who had been leading a chant stopped and pulled closed heavy drapes – all to build the suspense!

After a moment, a horn sounded and from behind us came this extraordinally loud booming drum and piercing bell. The drumming and ringing filled the space – it was so loud it was almost overwhelming, I could feel it vibrating through me.

Throughout this, one Brahmin priest waved special flames in front of the statue, starting with a holder which had just 3 flames, through larger holders until there were over a dozen small oil flames on the holder. After the drumming and bell had reached their crisendo, a chant started. At the end of the chant, the priest who was chanting started calling out some phrases (in Marathi so no idea what they said!) which the audience responded to with a cry of “hey” – many waving up their right hand at the same time. With the final “Hey!”, there was a bustle of activity and queues were formed at each side of the temple (women on the right side, men on the left). 

Unfolding our stiff legs, we joined the queue.  The temple priest took Swamiji up into the area where the statue sat and we watched him circle the statue of his Guru’s Guru, touching the statue’s feet (feet of a Guru are worshiped in India). We slowly filed round the front of the statue. Once there, a priest took our trays and draped the garlands over the deity. He then offered us the flame, which I learnt we were meant to wave our hands through and over our head, then gave a red dot of kumkum on our forehead before returning the tray with half a coconut, a flower, the kum kum and sweets.

It was not like anything I had done before, but it was a great experience – full of energy and excitment.

So with our powerful introduction to Ganeshpuri over, we headed back to Kothawala for lunch.


3 Responses to “Ganeshpuri and our first Arati”

  1. Renu on 25 Feb 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Hi Nadine…just to explain the suspense…this is my version…

    I have been told that the doors are shut when the idols (Gods) are being undressed/dressed….

    And I am surprised that the Mantras were in Marathi….these would be in Sanskrit….

    And as for the scaffolding…have a look at how people cross roads, travel on/in trains….AND at one point of time, I was a part of all this!

  2. cincoll on 26 Feb 2007 at 10:05 pm

    What a wonderful description – how amazing it must have been to arrive there after the long journey.

    Looking forward to the next installment!


  3. […] detailing her current trip to India – she’s in Ganeshpuri which is 2 hours out of Mumbai. Her description of the journey and her arrival at Ganeshpuri sounds […]

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