Most of you know of my great love for Ganesha. A month or two ago things got a little rough and a friend contacted a Swami for me. He said two things: 1. I didn't need a reading and 2. Take six coconuts to Ganesha. Just a day or so after I received that advice i found an elephant head near my house. I brought it home and excitedly called my friend. It seemed like the perfect thing to do. While I would still bring my coconuts to Ganesha I would also create a living shrine to him in my home. Later that week I brought my six coconuts to The Hindu Temple Society of North America Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam.
As I made my way to the temple fear crept over me. I didn't know the protocols of the temple. I had forgotten all my prayers. I couldn't understand why I was so afraid when I have always had a connection with Ganesha. But still I went and when I showed up at the enormous temple I was in awe. It was like stepping into another world.
I took off my shoes by the coconut breaking station and walked in. An older man was behind the desk and I waited to get his attention. I told him I had never been there before and I was unsure of what to do. He smiled and told me to follow him. He took me to Ganesha's shrine and explained that I would break one coconut outside and leave all but the one I broke with Ganesha. The coconut I broke would be placed in a plastic bag in front of Ganesh while I prayed and made my rounds through the temple. He pointed to a corridor.
"Through there is where you'll find the astrology. Many people forget that out bodies are connected to the planets and the stars. We must take care of our bodies in order to fully be healthy. We must pay attention to the stars in order to truly be healthy." He asked me what was wrong and I broke down crying. I noticed a sign on the wall. "No skirts, no shoes, no cell phones or video. This is a place of worship." I cried harder and wrapped the shawl around me. "You're not disrespecting if you come with a pure heart." He said. He looked at the charm around my neck. "This is for good luck." He said and again asked me what was wrong. We stood in the corner talking and he nodded his head. He sent me to break to break the coconut.
I went outside to the outdoor station and began pounding the coconut on the sink. Another older man came over to me as I pounded away. "Do you need help with that?" He asked. I showed him my messy broken coconut. "You did okay." He smiled and walked away.
Back inside I prayed in front of Ganesha and then made my rounds stopping at every altar and said a prayer until I had come back to Ganesha. The older man came around again. "You are a beautiful girl. There isn't any reason in the world you should be so sad. Smile. You came to Ganesha but Shiva loves you to and wants to help." You say your prayers to Ganesha and Shiva. He gave me back my coconut and asked me to return again. On my way out he said, "Eat a bit of that coconut child. He has blessed it. You are refreshed." I came home and started to work on Ganesha.
Below is the before and after. You can see the finished piece this Thursday at Sacred Gallery 8-11 p.m. Recycled, Reclaimed, Reworked Thrift Shop paintings. Great artists bring a new life to those old and dusty Thrift shop paintings. 424 Broadway 2nd Floor, NYC.