Happy Birthday, Ganesh!
I was struggling with how we should celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi this week. Sure, we went to the temple yesterday, but what were we going to do as a family? And how pull the essence of the holiday into something a 19-month-old would understand? In the end we’ve done a combination of things, and chinna papa has really taken to all of it. It will all be great to build on as she grows up!
Birthday Party for Lord Ganesha!
Always one to complicate things unnecessarily, I surprised myself when I realized that a simple birthday party for Ganesh would be perfect, simplified toddler intro. For the birthday treat, I thought coconut burfi would be a good choice because Ganesh likes coconut (and sweets in general). It’s also a relatively quick recipe thought it requires a lot of standing at the stove and stirring.
As pictured, Lord Ganesha joined us at the table for dinner, and then once we finished, we put a candle in a piece of burfi and sang happy birthday to him. Chinna papa then delighted in feeding the burfi to Ganesh and enjoying some herself. Simple enough for a 19-month-old, and yet holding true to the essence of the festival.
Chinna papa wouldn’t be able to mold a Ganesh out of clay just yet so instead we let her paint a picture of him. A quick Google of “Ganesh coloring pages” yielded TONS of options. I printed several, and let her choose which to color and/or paint. The image showing came from here (oddly enough), and the medium is finger paint on printer paper (she didn’t go too crazy so thicker paper wasn’t necessary). She also tried fingers in the paint at first but preferred the brush. Not bad! She’s very proud of it and makes sure to show all visitors as well as family via Skype/FaceTime, which mama made easy by hanging it in her room.
Sharing the Story of Ganesh
We’d recently bought the Ganesha Comic Book by Amar Chitra Katha), but it doesn’t hold chinna papa’s attention for too long (even if we ad-lib to shorten the content). After hearing the story of Krishna and looking for home references for the various deities, we also picked up “Hindu Gods and Goddesses” by Swami Harshananda but that’s definitely a reference book for mom/dad at this point.
Reluctantly turning to YouTube, I did find two decent videos for the occasion. I thought she’d like the songs from Bal Ganesh but she wasn’t into them for some reason. Instead, we watched the below.
The abridged version of Bal Ganesh (full movie in 15 mins) is good if still a bit long and involved for a toddler. I think the first part gives enough of the story and at least for a toddler it’s obviously not necessary to watch it in full! And of course we narrated the toddler translation as it played.
The Shri Ganesha Trailer video has a fun song that is catchy and gets faster and faster so was fun for us to sing together and dance a bit.
Coconut Burfi Recipe
(see top of page for photos – for once I remembered to take them!)
This recipe is from a book put out by a friend’s mom, but I can’t find any valid link for it online. It is called “Indradhanush – Seven Day Vegetarian menu” by Snehalatha Ravindra. Fittingly for this site, the impetus for the book was to offer “modern busy women” and “gourmets” support in providing nourishing, delicious meals for their families, while balancing work and family. Please send us a note if you would like to purchase the book and we will make it happen.
Two personal notes: cooking time is noted as 20 mins, but I found it to be nearly double that (but I was also afraid to burn it and so probably kept the heat on the low side). The book also says it serves 4, but after 5 days, 8 people dipping into the box, and a small gift to friends and of course an offering to Ganesh, there is still a good amount left!
There’s lots of stirring so your little one can help out there! Particularly when stirring the first 4 ingredients before putting it on the stove. Great fun for chefs in training.
- 2 cups fresh coconut, grated (I used store-bought dessicated coconut – UNSWEETENED!)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup ghee (made fresh ghee this time; we’ve run out of ghee from India)
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/2 tsp rose essence (skipped – didn’t have any on hand)
- In a thick-bottomed pan, mix coconut, sugar, milk & ghee
- Cook at medium heat, stirring continuously
- When the sugar starts leaving the sized of the pan add the cardamom (and rose essence)
- When mixture forms into a lump, pour it on a ghee-greased flat plate with a rim (cookie sheet for us)
- Pres it down with a spatula until it starts hardening
- With knife (or pizza cutter!) cut into squares or diamonds (recommend doing this before they cool all the way to make it easier)
Would love to hear other ideas about how you celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi with your little ones!