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If you want to visit India without leaving Sydney then Sri Venkateswara Temple, or simply SVT, is the place to be. And you can immerse yourself completely in the Indian tradition if the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is happening.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated on the birthday of the god Ganesha, widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Hindus celebrate it around the world during the month of Bhadra, date usually falling between 19 August and 20 September. “It is the grandest and most elaborate Hindu festival and lasts for 10 or 12 days” says Seetha Raman, my guide during the event.
Clay models of Lord Ganesha are made by skilled artisans two to three weeks before the festival. On the celebration day priests invoke the presence of Ganesha chanting mantras in a ritual called Pranapratishhtha. After that the idols are taken around the temple in a procession accompanied by drums, dancing and singing and later immersed in the sea symbolising a ritual seeing-off of his journey towards his abode, taking away with him the misfortunes of all mankind.
The festival is a cultural blast celebrated by the migrant Hindu population and counted with the presence of Wollongong’s Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.
The temple is located in Helensburgh, 40 km south of Sydney Central (CBD).