INDIA. Mumbai, Maharashtra. Lord Ganesha is worshiped in many parts of the world, as evident from the Ganesh festival celebrated by the seafarers aboard a chemical/oil products tanker Ocean Dignity on its way to northwest Africa.
The vessel is expected to reach Naoudhibou Port (the city in Mauritania) on 4 Sept. Their workload did not deter the seafarers who celebrated the festival right from “Ganesh Chaturthi” (22 August) to “Anant Chaturdashi” (01 September) with gusto and jubilation.
Most worshipped deity
Lord Ganesha is one of the most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali (Indonesia), Bangladesh, and in countries with large Indian populations including Fiji, Mauritius, and Trinidad and Tobago. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations.
As part of the festival, a pooja was performed on the Ocean Dignity, prasad (an offering of food) was distributed and other rituals were followed regularly every day. As Lord Ganesha, is also referred to as “Vighnaharta”, the one who wards off evil, the seafarers prayed to ward off COVID-19 from the world.
The festival was celebrated absolutely within marine pollution control norms, which prohibit dumping of any harmful substance into the sea. A dough of wheat flour was used to prepare the idol. It was installed in one of the big halls to facilitate the assembly of more persons for pooja.
Everyone aboard the vessel, from the stewards to the chief engineer, spared time to contribute towards preparation and decoration of the Makhar (decorative frame) to install the idol. To get the flowers for pooja was another important task. As such the old paper charts and maps were used to prepare flowers, which were painted red to resemble them to the flowers of “Jasvandi” (Hibiscus). It is believed that Ganesha likes the Hibiscus flowers most. The “Durva” (trailing grass, referred to as Cynodon dactylon) was another essential ingredient for the pooja. As such paper Durvas were made and painted with green colour. A brass thali and a bell required for the pooja was also fabricated aboard the ship.
Relief to stressed seafarers
Since as per the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, entertainment programs are permitted on the vessel, there was no objection to the festival being organized on board. The required permission was obtained from the owners of the vessel to celebrate the festival, Captain Bhushan Abhyankar said in interview with Transcontinental Times. The festival provided relief to the stressed seafarers who are worried about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the well-being of their families at home, he added.
Although import/export activities have not been affected much, the seafarers are demoralized since it has put a damper on their spirit and uncertainty looms large on their prospects. Under these circumstances, the celebration of the Ganesha festival was certainly a pleasing experience, Herald Maritime Services Private Limited (HMSPL) Executive President Captain Rajendra Y Barve said.