Monday, August 24, 2009
We slipped off our shoes and walked around the temple, admiring the ornate carvings and statues inside, and the lingering scent of incense. I asked about a shop (surprise, surprise), seeking a bigger Ganesh statue to add to my apartment. The priest directed us across the street to a building that faces Nakasero Market - the doors were shut tight, but there was a banner proclaiming "Hindu Religious Items."
In the weeks since that first trip, I swung by every time I emerged from the fabric market (during my daily vendor payment trips), and the doors were always shut - until last week, when I saw them flung open with all sorts of crazy Indian stuff pouring out. I ran up the steps, breathless, and came back cradling a big white Ganesh statue, with a lotus unfurling behind his head, and a very lopsided face (thanks to a poorly made plaster cast). The priest begged me to let him paint it, but one glance at the garish green and orange versions on the shelf behind him and I tucked a wad of shillings into his hands, thanked him profusely, and said I preferred the dusty white version.
Lucky for me, I brought Ganesh home just in time for Ganesh Utsav - the 11-day festival celebrating the deity's birth - it began yesterday. The priest offered to come to my house every day for pooja...but again I politely declined. I'm nowhere near a real Hindu anyway. I'm not even sure why the little Ganesh from Bali needed a big, pale twin... but yesterday, at the start of the festival, I lit some Nag Champa and put a bowl of flowers out in his honor. He's the Hindu God of Wisdom, after all, and who can't use a little more of that?