The Alpha One

गणपति बाप्पा मोरयामंगल मूर्ति मोरया

Favourite time of the year when celebration has its own road to gratitude by welcoming the Creator, the Alpha, the Absolute being, the God of all things and God in all things! This is the time when our Mumbai instantly brightens up, the air fills with scent of sweets, vibrant flower garlands are to be seen around, every shop selling various decorations, all telling that city’s much loved God is here. There is synchronised chaos everywhere & the display of faith at its peak.

Lord Ganesh has in total 108 names, one being Modakpriya, meaning the one who loves modak. Seeing people repeatedly creating fruits, chocolate, paan, and what not modaks I decided on something that has been close to Ganpati, the hued hibiscus flower. The traditional Maharashtrian style Ukadiche Modak (steamed), which is prepared at home to offer during prayers, are made of rice flour, with a delicious stuffing of coconut and jaggery. Keeping the rich traditional recipe intact, I play here with different texture of same and adding an element of hibiscus. Shaping the modak is most difficult but fun part and that’s why I keep it open for the guest to shape it (if they have the guts to) or just roll it up. Red hibiscus flower is personally Ganesha’s favorite. Hibiscus is offered to Lord Ganesha and because they signify strength and power of subconscious. The five petal of this flower signifies, destroying the negative energy & welcoming the new positive energy from the universe.

There is one particular tale that I remember about why Ganpati loves modaks. The story goes like, Anusuya (wife of Atri, an ancient Rishi) invited Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, along with Lord Ganesha, to visit her and give her their blessings. Shiva was starving and wanted to food to be served but had to wait because it was Ganesh who was given the priortiy by Anusuya. Ganpati was served dishes after dishes but nothing could satiate his hunger, and then Anusuya served Him a sweet modak, which finally made Him full & He burped.

Fact: The festival that is celebrated at this time (Bhadrapada Hindu month) of the year is Ganesh Chaturthi, started by Tilak to bring community together. The “original” festival is on Ganesh Jayanti, called as Maghi Ganpati which is celebrated in Maagha Hindu month.

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