Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with a special thali being served all across Niraamaya Retreats. Explore the famous temples of Kerala and Rajasthan if you are staying at Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club, and Royal Heritage Haveli by Niraamaya Retreats.
Indians have a very personal relationship with Lord Ganesh. It extends beyond just the spiritual. He is prayed to, worshiped and adored. He is invoked before every act, and especially worshiped and prayed to when changes occur in our lives as we move from the old established patterns into new ones. An entire genre of Lord Ganesh art sculptures, in which he is rendered in various ways and forms, has evolved over the past few years.
If you are staying at one of Niraamaya Retreats properties, we recommend a few experiences to enjoy this festival.
All Niraamaya Retreats properties will be serving a special thali at lunch during the 10-day long festival. The Thali has food drawn from different parts of India, which is either served as prasad or is part of a feast to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesha. Chef Prakash Nayak, Executive Chef of Niraamaya Retreats says, “The thali has a traditional combination of rice, lentils, vadas and desserts.”
In the special thali, you will be served five kinds of rice — crunchy, flavourful and sour Lemon Rice with a sprinkling of peanuts; flavourful Coconut Rice infused with an aroma of fresh coconut and curry leaves; the tangy Tamarind Rice, also popularly known as pulihora or puliyodhara in the south of India; the favorite Pulao, an ambrosial blend of vegetables and spices such as cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon; and the staple Curd Rice, tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chillies.
On the thali are also two kinds of vadas — a medu vada cooked with urad dal (black lentils) and a dal vada made with a blend of lentils. Two varieties of lentil curry, cooked using a blend of pigeon lentils, chickpea, black gram and several such are served in the thali meal. No Ganesh Chaturthi feast is ever complete with Modakam (known as modaks in some parts of India). “These sweet flour dumplings are said to be Lord Ganesh’s favourite food.” Across India, several kinds of modakams are made, using ingredients as varied as saffron, jaggery, coconut and even chocolates! The Niraamaya Retreats thali offers two kinds of modakams — one made with palm sugar and the other, with white sugar. They are stuffed with a delicious mix of coconut, lentils, jaggery and nutmeg.
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam
A beautiful Lord Ganesha statue, reclining by the lush lawns of the property, ushers guests into the sylvan confines of Arabian Sea-fringed Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra. Lord Ganesha features foremost in the large pantheon of Hindu deities and is worshipped before every other deity. At the retreat, this elephant-headed god is placed at a premium location, his statue seemingly surveying the vast ocean around and the lush grounds of the retreat.
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra offers curated trips to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, which is at a distance of 24 kms. Among one of its tourist attractions is the age-old Pazhavangadi Maha Ganapathy temple, nestled within the East Fort in the heart of this city, which celebrates the festival with tremendous ardor and devotion.
Local legend has it that the original Lord Ganesha idol was worshipped by a soldier of the Nair Brigade, of the Travancore army, at Padmanabhapuram, a little coastal town near Kanyakumari. He invoked the Lord to protect the palace-fort he was guarding from demons. In 1795, when the capital of Travancore was moved to Thiruvananthapuram, the idol too was shifted and a grand temple was constructed to house it by Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal. Intriguingly, when the Travancore Army merged with the Indian Army, the temple’s administration was transferred to the Madras Regiment. The sculpted stone façade of the temple displays a life-size statue of Lord Ganapathy. The exquisitely carved temple has 32 sculptures of Ganesh, to celebrate his 32 forms
Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club, Thekkady
Ask the retreat for a trip to Madurai, a city close to Thekkady, to explore the stunning Meenakshi Temple, a colourful abode of the triple-breasted warrior goddess Meenakshi (fish-eyed). This breathtaking temple of 1,000 pillars is considered the pinnacle of South Indian temple architecture. The 17th-century temple is eagle-spread over a six-hectare complex and is studded with 12 tall gopurams and encrusted with a staggering array of gods, goddesses, demons and heroes.
One of the gopurams, the Nadukattu Gopuram or the ‘Idaikattu Gopuram leads to a Ganapathy shrine. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated at the temple with a series of poojas and a grand procession around the temple. A clay idol is consecrated at the mandapam and worshipped during the festival. On the last day, it is immersed in the temple pond. After paying obeisance to The Elephant God (as Lord Ganesha is often referred to), explore the spectacular architecture of the Meenakshi temple. It features a large hall with a thousand pillars, a sacred pool with a golden lotus where you can take a ritualistic bath, a wedding hall, innumerable small shrines, gardens, and elephant sheds.
Back at the retreat, opt for a cruise down the Periyar river. The cruise offers you an opportunity to view actual elephants in the wild. Herds of elephants can be seen along the river banks early mornings or late evenings.
Royal Heritage Haveli by Niraamaya Retreats, Jaipur
Jaipur, like most of India, celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi in a rather grand manner. The city has several large temples of Lord Ganesha, among them the famous Moti Doongri temple. But top-lining the list of popular Lord Ganesha temples is the one in the royal Amer Fort. The Aakede ke Ganesh ji temple hosts a procession during the festival, and a tableaux of Lord Ganesha is carried in a palkhi across this majestic fort.
The temple is sited at Ganesh Pol, a door that marks the entrance of the personal quarter of the former kings and queens. Once, only really important visitors were allowed entry into the palace beyond this gate. Ganesh Pol has a splendid amalgamation of Mughal and Rajput architectural influences.
Rajasthan is a land of folk musicians. Manganiyars, the folk musicians of Rajasthan are passionate singers and during the festival, groups can be found singing in several music festivals dedicated to the Lord. Royal Heritage Haveli by Niraamaya Retreats will help organise experiences at Amer Fort and other temples across Jaipur.
Hindustan Times writes about the significance and history of Ganesh Chaturthi.
Famous mythologist, motivational speaker and writer on mythology decodes the legends surrounding Lord Ganesha.