A line formed for God’s gifts. Hands clapped above flames, and were brought to closed eyelids as smoke billowed.
“They received the blessings of God, from the fire,” said Harshavardhan Deshmukh of Maharashra, Nashik, India.
Families, friends, professors and students brought East Asia to an apartment complex in Ruston over the weekend. The event was a kaleidoscopic blur of saris, flowers, rice and bare feet. People flooded the area to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Ganesh’s birthday.
It was brought in with spices, desserts and camaraderie.
Ganesh is the Hindu god of overcoming obstacles. He travels by mouse and enjoys sweets. His festival typically lasts for about a week and a half.
Hundreds of people came to share in the celebration, said Deshmukh.
The majority of the families were Indian, although people of other nationalities were sprinkled in.
The spiritual birthday party went very well, said Grambling State University administrative coordinator Susie Tunuguntla, of Hydrabad. She has lived in the Grambling area for 25 years.
Tunuguntla’s family traveled from Dallas to bond with other Ganesh followers.
“I volunteer every year,” said Tunuguntla.
“Everyone had a good time.”
Praising Ganesh is a good way to start the school year, said Tunuguntla.
Her family made rice pudding and assisted local students, most of whom prepared tables of Indian food. Celebrators adhered to a number of rituals including not contaminating the sacred space with shoes.
“Shoes are against the spirit of the law. They are against rituals of God,” said Deshmukh.
Ganesh Chaturthi helps people get back to normal, said Tunuguntla.
The event is one of the biggest celebrations in India. The Ruston Indian community hosts the celebration annually. All were welcomed.