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Unity and togetherness define Ganesh fest for Indians abroad

Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated with fervour by Indians staying in the US, France, Dubai, Germany, Australia, UK and several other countries. The aartis, dhol-tasha performances and cultural programmes have brought together friends and families staying abroad. OpulentusChetan Khandge, a practising doctor in Richmond, Virginia, US, has been celebrating the festival for seven years now. It is the most-awaited period of the year. Khandge said, "Friends are excited a fortnight before the arrival of Ganesha. Preparations begin starting from what would be the concept for decoration to the daily 'prasad' for the 10 days. Food is very much Maharashtrian all through the festival, while the traditional 'modaks' are also offered to the lord. Everything is home-made." Khandge and his wife, Trupti, have hosted several guests since the festival began. The daily aarti has witnessed nearly a full house. Khandge said, "It becomes really loud with many friends joining in and our neighbours wondering what's happening. But our spirit remains the same each day." Shivani Kardenavis, a resident of Sunnywale, California, who has installed an idol at her home, said, "The Indian grocery stores here sell Ganesh idols with an American touch. The idol is considerably smaller given America's strict environmental policies." IT professional Vinod Pawar, who stays in Brisbane, Australia, has brought Indians together by installing a community Ganesh idol in the club house. "Besides the daily aarti, cultural programmes are part of the festival here, just like it is done in India. However, we reserve the weekends for the programmes. Music and dance shows are staged by the young and old," Pawar said. Another IT professional, Rakesh Vaity, who stays in the Philippines, visits a nearby temple where the festival is being celebrated by Indians. "The temple hosts the festival and all of us join in. During these 10 days, we don't feel that we are away from India. The atmosphere is as good as it is back home. The best part is that the festival unites us, which brings a feeling of being at home." The Maharashtra Mandal in London, UK, has made elaborate plans for the 10-day festival, which includes cultural programmes as well as lectures on various topics. "Over the years, we have seen that not just Indians but even foreigners or local residents have started joining in. They also attend the aarti and 'atharvashirsha' recitation," said Tejesh Raut, a member of mandal. Source: Times of India

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