Om Sweet Om

Om Sweet Om


Welcome Om…

posted by Vineet Chander
ganesh.jpg
Jai Sri Ganesh

Sri Ganesh (also spelled Ganesa) is considered the lord of new beginnings. From the homemaker beginning her day, to the business owner commencing his account ledger, to the Bollywood director beginning the first scene of a movie shoot–they all turn to Ganesh. Hindus of all denominations and lineages invoke his name, and his status as the guardian of the threshold of a new opportunity seems to be universally accepted in the Hindu world. It is rare to find anyone who worships Ganesh as Supreme – most Hindus relegate him to the role of a devata (demigod), a divinely empowered being not unlike an archangel – but it is equally rare to find a Hindu who will neglect to first offer him due respects.

For me, born and raised in New York City (c. the early 1980s), Ganeshji (the -ji is a Sanskrit suffix of respect, and brings me back to a childhood where I wouldn’t dare to utter the name of a devata, or of a family elder for that matter, without adding the honorific) always posed a problem.



Depicted frequently in garish Hindu calendar art and colorful murtis
(sacred sculptures), Ganesh was such a graphic reminder of how
different my religion seemed to be from the faiths of my “American”
friends and classmates. I remember dinner at my best friend Peter’s
house; we’d sit at a formal dining table, cloth napkins folded in our
laps and bland food on our plates, while a formal picture of
Jesus-with-outstretched-arms smiled down at us benignly. The painting’s
somber colors and realistic brush strokes made it look like Jesus
himself must have sat for the portrait; in comparison, the bright
posters showing off Lord Ganesh’s elephant head and round belly seemed
almost scandalous.

The more I tried to avoid Ganeshji, the more he kept popping up. Of
course, he was there in our home’s foyer (in accordance with Hindu
tradition, my family had a picture of Ganesh displayed prominently at
the entrance). He was also there, as a small plastic murti, on
the dashboard of our Camry (in accordance with unofficial Hindu
tradition, our family car was a Toyota Camry). But it didn’t end there.
He also showed up in the pages of my World History textbook. He landed
up as a bronze sculpture on the desk of my eccentric elementary school
principal (years later I learned the technical term for what he was: indophile). And once The Simpsons hit the airwaves, Ganeshji was there at Apu’s Kwik-e-Mart, unapologetically front and center.

Ganeshji, it seemed, would not let me get away from him. And, in a way
that I understand now but couldn’t see back then, he would not let me
get away from myself either.

Om Sweet Om is, in many ways, the story of how I traveled from, with, and perhaps to Lord Ganesh. I realize that it is not the Hindu-American story, but it is a Hindu-American story. It is the story of my own ongoing journey home.
 
Namaste, and welcome to the blog.



  • Laurie Sue

    Welcome Vineet. Thank you for this most excellent blog. So glad to see you in the pages of Beliefnet. Om Ganesh!

  • Dilshad Ali

    Vineet! I’m so glad to see your blog up and running! I look forward to learning more about your faith and your family. Congrats on the birth of your daughter. I’m so happy that I discovered you and got you to come to Beliefnet, and to Laurie Sue for nurturing this blog and making it live.

  • Ella

    Please refer to women who work in the home as “homemakers,” not “housewives.” They are not married to their home.
    Thanks for your thoughts!–Ella

  • Shady

    Welcome, Vincent. I shall read this blog with interest, as I wish to learn more about the practises of Hinduism.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/omsweetom/ Vineet

    Hi Ella,
    Thanks for your feedback. I’ve changed the “housewives” reference.
    ys,
    Vineet

  • Carol

    I can feel the energy that you are putting into your blog.
    Keep up the good work.
    Carol

  • Shubhangi

    Dear Vineet,
    I am happy that Lord Ganesha is with you all the time.Ganesha may look Garish sometimes but the God has undergone the transformation from the one who creates difficulties to the one who removes obstacles and protects- the Mangal murti along with being the patron God of wisdom and learning and fine arts.For the believers he is a rich source of peace and reassurance.That has been the experience of me and my family.
    Shubhangisr

  • Bavi

    Good Reading! I can quite relate!! Its nice to read another’s perspective on similar experiences.

  • prashanti

    ah, Vineet, what a lovely addition to belief net’s offerings – thank you so much !
    as a kind of ‘ Indophile ‘ myself & a 30 + year meditator in a tradition of the Shankaracharya lineage, i very much look forward to what you’ll be sharing with us . .
    Ongoing prayers for Divine Guidance, Spiritual Fulfillment & the Abundance of Every Good Thing
    Deep Peace to you _/\_

  • Anan E. Maus

    Ganesh and many of the other members of the Hindu cosmology seem quite similar to the Judeo-Christian archangels.
    Indra seems quite similar to Metatron. Raphael as the archangel of healing seems similar to the Aswinikumar. So, I don’t know that there really are that many profound differences between the paths.
    Sri Ramakrishna set out to prove this very point, by practicing the disciplines of many of the world’s major religions in order to discover that the Goal at the end of them all is exactly the same.
    Namaste

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