Last week, my English teacher had all her English classes select a country (or religion) and research how they celebrate their Christmas. I saw Korean and German on the list, but I was already oh so familiar with how Koreans and Germans celebrate Christmas. So, I looked down on the list and decided to do something out of the ordinary: Hindu.
So, I’m off from my normal posts: Korean, German, Mandarin Chinese (did I even do anything on Mandarin Chinese or China yet? If not, I will soon), and Latin (I will post something Latin-related soon). I actually finished my project around Wednesday, but I decided to wait since today is actually the start of the holiday. So here’s a little something about what I found:
Pancha Ganapati-The Hindus do not celebrate Christmas; instead they celebrate a festival called Pancha Ganapati or “The Family Festival of Giving.” Pancha Ganapati is a modern winter holiday for the Hindus, which is full of family-centered activities, such as picnics, outings, feasts, and gift giving (especially for the children). During the five days of Pancha Ganapati, which is from December 21st to December 25th, the Hindus worship Lord Ganesha (the elephant-headed Lord of culture and new beginnings). Family members would work to rectify past mistakes and bring Lord Ganapati’s blessings of joy and harmony into their lives by focusing on a different sadhana (self-enrichment) for each of the five days. Each day, a tray of sweets, incense, and fruits are prepared and then offered to Lord Ganapati, preferably from the children. They also sing and chant songs to praise him and give colorful presents to the children, who will then place them before Lord Ganapati.
Instead of Christmas trees and Christmas decorations galore, the home is decorated like the forest. The home can be decorated with bamboo, pine boughs, banana leaves, or palm fronds. In the main living room of the house, a shrine (or any type of picture/statue) of Panchamukha (a five-faced form of Ganesha) Ganapati is created and placed. Adding sugarcane, lime garlands, durva grass, vadai, sweet modaka, flashing lights, oil lamps, or colorful ornaments can enhance the shrine. Then, the children will decorate and dress him in the color of the day each morning. Each of the five colors represent one of Lord Ganapati’s five rays of shaktis (energy).
The first day of Pancha Ganapati is golden yellow. Golden yellow is devoted to creating a vibration of love and harmony among the family. Family members will rise early in the morning to work and decorate the shrine with traditional symbols, lamps, etc. Afterwards, they perform a grand puja to invoke Pancha Ganapati’s blessings and then, the family sit with one another to share their love and make amends for any past misdeeds, insults, injuries, mental pain, etc. Gifts are then exchanged and placed (unopened) before the shrine. The second day is royal blue, which devotes love and harmony among neighbors, relatives, and close friends. They offer gifts and apologies to one another to relieve tension, clear up misunderstandings, and forgiveness is obtained. The third day is ruby red, which devotes love and harmony among business associates, merchants, and the public. The Hindus present gifts to their fellow workers and customers. They also honor their employers and employees by giving them gifts and showing them appreciation. The fourth day is emerald green, which draws forth the spiritual discipline of art, music, drama, and dance. On this day, family and friends sit in front of Lord Ganesha, the Patron of Arts and the Guardian of Culture, to share their artistic gifts, discuss Hindu Dharma, and make plans to bring more cultural refinements to their home. The last day is brilliant orange, which devotes bringing forth love and harmony to charity and religiousness. Since the previous four sadhanas (self-enrichment) have been performed well the previous four days, everyone is aware and experiences the love and grace of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha’s flowing love pervades through the house and into people’s hearts, so everyone is inspired for the next year. Now that all five sadhanas are fulfilled, peace, love, and harmony has been restored once again. Finally, all the gifts are distributed and opened.
Hopefully this is all the correct information, but if you like to know more…here’s the websites I obtained all my information from: