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Ganesh Chaturti is a special festival in India dedicated to the birthday of Ganesha, the beloved elephant-headed god. Hindus all over the world worship the deity as the lord of beginnings and the remover of obstacles. This year, Ganesh Chaturti fell on September 17.

In honor of Ganesha’s birthday, the Museum’s Himalayan Heritage Meetup group hosted an event with India Home, Inc., a senior daycare center in Jackson Heights, Queens, that brings culturally dynamic programming to members of the South Asian community.

To kick off the event Tashi Chodron, Coordinator of Himalayan Cultures and Outreach Programs, gave a brief introduction to the geography of the Himalayas, focusing on Mt. Kailash in Tibet, where Ganesha’s parents, Shiva and Parvathi, are believed to reside.

Photo: Ronald Schvarztman

Meera Nair then led a discussion explaining the spiritual significance of the iconography that characterizes Ganesha in front of an exquisite eleventh-century statue of the deity.

Photo: Ronald Schvarztman

The celebration traveled down the block to the Museum’s Education Center, where the women of India Home, Inc., presented a vibrant program of dance, music, and ritual.

Photo: Ronald Schvarztman

The India Home dancers—many of whom are in their eighties—performed the vigorous Ras Garba, a folk dance from the Indian state of Gujarat. To the delight of the audience, the brightly dressed dancers swirled to the beats of traditional “dhol” sticks in synchronized steps, rhythmically striking their colorful sticks together.

Photo: Ronald Schvarztman
Photo: Chotalal Mehta

It was a warm, colorful, and festive event for all, and the Rubin community looks forward to welcoming the lovely ladies of India Home, Inc., back to the Museum!

Photo: Ronald Schvarztman

The Rubin hosts a Himalayan Heritage Meetup every first Wednesday of the month with an interesting theme that connects to the culture, art, history, and sacred traditions of the Himalayas.

This blog post was written and assembled by Meera Nair, Urgyen, and Tashi Chodron.