Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has been celebrating 'Ganesh Pooja for Children' for more than 7 years now across the country. This year, between Sep 11th and Sep 19th, it was conducted in more than 44 places including many locations where it was done for the first time. Totally, more than 1500 children performed pooja and along with their families, there were more than 4000 participants.
In most places, children either made their own Ganesh murthis or brought them. Each child got all the necessary items (such as haldi, kumkum, flowers, akshata, panchaamrutam, fruits, etc) and a Children's Ganesh Pooja Booklet and got to perform his or her own pooja. The unique aspect of this 'Ganesh Pooja for Children' was that each step of the pooja was explained to the children in way that they understand and appreciate. And of course, children enjoyed the fact that they got to do their own pooja with almost no help from their parents! After the pooja, they heard some stories on Ganesh and had prasad. Thus it was not only fun and enjoyable for children but at the same time it accomplished the goal of helping children appreciate our culture and heritage.
Not only was it Ganesh Pooja by Children but also a Samuhik Ganesh Pooja, i.e. Ganesh Pooja done collectively in large numbers. Coming together for a cause and celebrating together with others brings in its own fun, collective spirit, and unity which children also got to experience.
Overall, Ganesh Pooja was a grand success this year with having conducted this pooja in many new places and bringing people together.
- Children made their own environment friendly Ganesh murthis from clay at many places such as Wisconsin, Arkansas, New Jersey, California, and Illinois.
- Local Gurudwara Prabandhak Commitee provided place, facilities & whole-heartedly extended support to conduct the Utsav at Wisconsin. Many Sikh families also got to participate and do Ganesh Pooja.
- In Arkansas, each child got a 'My Ganesh' kit which included clay play-dough, flowers, agarbatti, dry fruits, paper plate and cup, haldi, kumkum for puja, 'My Ganesha' booklet, Balagokulam flyer etc.
- This year, not only children but college students also celebrated Ganesh Pooja. Hindu YUVA (campus chapters of HSS) conducted Ganesh Pooja for college and university students on campuses such as Illinois State University, UC Berkeley, and George Washington University in DC.
- In Pennsylvania, over 75 Bhutanese Hindus also joined and even led bhajans at the end for more than an hour.
- In Bay Area, California, it was actually many teenagers who led the pooja. There was a separate training session for them 2 weeks prior to the pooja where they learned all the necessary shlokas and instructions.
- In Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a Ganesh murthi was hand carved out of jaggary!
- Not only pooja but Ganesh Visarjan was also done in many places such as Wisconsin, Illinois, and California.
- In Washington, Ganesh Pooja was covered by one of the mainstream newspapers, 'The Olympian'.
Some comments by participants and supporters:
"It was the 1st such event which made kids to sit in the same place even with out going for water, restroom etc... for two hours. It's a big success. Kudos to you and to all of the team members."
"I really appreciate such an invoking event here in nwa. Thanks for coming forward to educate and as well as entertain our kids. We look forward to such events in future too from you all. Thanks once again to your entire team. No doubt kids will want to attend the festival events from now on with a smile having such entertainment from you all."
I would like to congratulate your team for organizing this awesome program, "My Ganesh". It was a blast! The event was very well organized. It was impressive to watch as many as 100 kids sitting under one roof for more than an hour and a half making their Ganesha, decorating him and doing the pooja. All the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. They never seemed to get tired. They were also enthusiastic to chant shlokas and sing bhajans. I think this is an ingenious way of introducing Hinduism and our culture to young kids. saw teachers working hard. My wife Vandana was a teacher and she said she enjoyed it as well."