Last week, the Indian Student Association at the University of Missouri–St. Louis partnered with UMSL Global to hold a celebration commemorating Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the Hindu god, Ganesha, the god of wisdom, prosperity and auspiciousness.
The Indian Student Association was formed to help Indian students adapt to UMSL and build community with each other. The group, which counts more than 85 members, holds events throughout the year that celebrate traditions and culture.
Members of ISA and other students gathered in the Century Rooms in the Millennium Student Center for the celebration that included worship, food and a ceremony to set the Ganesha statue in the pond outside the MSC. It was the first ISA event of the year and served as an opportunity to welcome association members and other students back on campus.
Jenitha Khatri, vice president of the student group, described the event from her experience growing up with this traditional celebration.
“Ganesh Chaturthi is the day when Lord Ganesha arrives at our home,” she said. “It is a festival for 10 days where people dance together, they have prayers together and then after the prayers and everything we do, conduct some fun events where everybody gets together and socializes. The significance of this is that Lord Ganesha is the god of knowledge, wealth and wisdom. He comes in at our home for 10 days to give us all his blessings. After those 10 days, we put him down in the water.”
Many were dressed in customary clothing for the celebration.
With 85 percent of the ISA members being from India, the celebration helped connect them to their homeland.
“I can connect to my friends and family,” said Manas Deja, who is from Hyderabad, India and is pursuing a master’s in information systems technology. “The things we have celebrated, the fun we had, the festive vibe, especially for the nine days in India.”
For students looking to connect with student organizations that reflect their identity and culture such as the Black Student Association or the Muslim Student Association, more information can be found within the Office of Student Involvement or log into Triton Connect.