BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Ever feel nostalgic around the Ganesh Chaturthi time in US? Do you miss the decorated tents, blaring music, or simply a chance to visit Ganapathi Bappa in a public place where you do not need an invitation? This August 23rd, the Ganesha festivities in Alpharetta co-ordinated by Friends of Alpharetta,GA gave us the opportunity to be transported back in time and space to India. The event was sponsored by the Amma Kitchen Indian Restaurant, A1-Education Services, Sai Murali Indian Restaurant, India Plaza, Spice Hut, Virtue Group, RajaPhotography.com and other individual sponsors.
A sprawling white tent spread across the lawn festooned with bright and vibrant color decorations inside. Devotees and visitors were asked to leave their footwear at the entrance of the tent in respect for the 5 ft tall stunning Ganapathi that welcomed everyone. Priest Seshu Puranam tells us that the Ganapathi statue was ordered about 6 months ago and came all the way from Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. The day was filled with activities from dawn to dusk. A special prayer called "Ganesh Vratam" was performed by Priest Suresh Kumar in addition to the regular Archanas (prayers) by Priest Seshu Puranam throughout the day. Evening came alive with devotional and movie song performances by Ram Durvasula's ‘Swaralahri’. Ganesh story recital by Latha Vedurupaka and Telugu-to-English Ganesh Story recital by Syamala Cherukumalli also entertained the audience. ”People continued to pour in even after 10:30 in the night” Seshu Puranam tells us. The event had about 1000 visitors and free dinner was served to everyone by Amma Kitchen.
“It is interesting to see different people from all over India came together to celebrate” observed Raj Koduru, Festival Coordinator. Priest Seshu Puranam said the community really got into the festive spirit and it’s brought back great memories for those involved. “We’ve had some really unique and interesting festival and I am sure we will bring in more people next year" Srinivas Cherukumalli added.
Priest Seshu Puranam and Raj Koduru are thankful to the City of Alpharetta, Fire and Police Department for their support. They also extend their gratitude to volunteers who decorated the tent, coordinated parking, served prasadam and helped clean up after the event. A Ganapathi open to public, regular and special poojas performed by priests, concluded by music and food, a clear concept to bring back fond memories associated with the Ganesha Chaturthi back home was truly a memorable experience to anyone who attended the event. Here’s wishing the coordinators much success in the years to come.