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Hindu worshipers flock to parade in Flushing

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Thousands of Hindu worshipers assembled at the Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam Temple at 45-57 Bowne St. in Flushing Sunday afternoon to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesha, also known as the Destroyer of Obstacles.

Ganesha is a god many devout Hindus pray to every morning, and whose power to bring luck, fortune and peace is considered to be vast.

“Every human being has obstacles, from birth to their death, and to ward them off one prays to Lord Ganesh,” said Mahadeo Deopersaud, a Hindu religious scholar. “The lord is usually confined to the temple and doesn’t get to go out. This a chance to take him out and show him to the world.”

The celebration began with prayers inside the temple, where many worshipers brought food offerings in exchange for good tidings in the coming year. They then spilled into the street, dressed in their best dhotis and saris, and a holy statue of Ganesha was placed upon a 15-foot silver chariot. The procession then began in earnest.

The worshipers moved down Main Street. Many had their hands clasped and would briefly touch a rope trailing the chariot, connecting them to the god, after which they would quickly move aside and offer the rope to those near them. Deopersaud stood on the sidewalk watching.

“This statue is not an ordinary statue,” he said. “The energy of god is invoked into the statue and it becomes a holy object. The Hindu scriptures, the word of God, tell us that the one god of the universe is unfathomable so we find ways to reach this god, to form a connection.”

As the procession made its way back to the temple, the Ganesha statue was dipped in water in a ceremony meant to symbolically dissolve away the sins and problems of those who show their devotion and thanks to the god.

“The temple is full of positive vibrations, that’s why I’m here,” said a man from Jackson Heights who only gave his name as Murthy. “That’s why people come to the temple: to pray for something positive,” he added as he walked towards the temple along with a friend whom he was taking to the ceremony for the first time. “All the positive energy is directed towards the God, and that positive is radiated back.”

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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