BANGKOK, THAILAND, September 8, 2013 (Times of India): With 600 pandals, Ganesh Utsav is likely to be grand affair. “Ganpati Bappa Moriya!” announces Bangkok’s most popular radio station. Ganesha, the most versatile of all Gods, possesses a tremendous following in Thailand. “His presence above cash counters is what keeps them jingling,” say shopkeepers. “Known as Phra Phikanet /Phra Phikanesuan, he is considered the Lord of business and diplomacy. The Thai pray in Sanskrit, hundreds offer marigolds, coconuts, sugarcane and fruit juice to him,” says Assaya Suttikal, who sells fresh flowers and incense at Central World deity.
“Thailand is the only place in the world where there are more non-Hindu followers of an Indian God. The Shiva temple – Ramindra, Utthayan Ganesh temple – Nakhon Nayok and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Thailand celebrate Ganesh Utsav with enthusiasm. Participation by locals gets bigger every year,” says Susheel Saraff, president of VHP, Thailand. Seven years ago, with permission from the Thai government, VHP began celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi-visarjan in Bangkok. “Their only condition was that the Deities should be eco-friendly. We import small Deities from India and fly in artists from Pune to prepare bigger ones here. They bring material from India and are provided 45 days to sculpt and paint.”
The best dates according to the Thai calendar – September 1 to 8 – are chosen for the Nakhon Nayok celebrations. Some 66 miles north of Bangkok, Nakhon Nayok has a 38-foot-high statue. Decorated with Thai head gear and finery, it is an important place of worship. As per Hindu calendar, the sthapna puja will be performed today. Sanjay Kumar of VHP says, “We have printed the aarti Jai Ganesh Deva in Thai and English. The immersion procession is on September 15. Seven points have been allotted at Chao Phraya River. Amid devotional songs and drum beats, Ganesha will be bid adieu on decorative floats in boats for visarjan.”