The final day of one of the largest Indian festivals is being celebrated in Oamaru on Saturday and members of the public are welcome to see the festivities.
Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10-day Hindu festival honouring Lord Ganesha, is celebrated by millions of people in India and is marked in major New Zealand cities including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, which have large Indian populations.
The festival features the installation of Ganesha idols privately in homes or publicly on elaborate temporary stages.
In New Zealand, the celebrations finish on Saturday.
Rajan Patel, who has lived in Oamaru for about two years, will mark the occasion at his home.
He has a statue of Ganesh – made of plaster of Paris and imported from India – at his home, which has been a focal point over the past several days.
“He comes into our home for about 10 days. There are particular days in the year where he will be in different homes. We farewell him after 10 days, when he will go back to his home.”
He said the statue would be immersed in water, where it would dissolve.
When that happened, it was believed Ganesha returned to Mt Kailash, to Parvati and Shiva.
“During the 10 days, we treat him as a human – as part of the family,” Mr Patel said.
“When we eat, we serve him first and then we eat. When we go to sleep, we’ll cover him so he can sleep, too. We believe he’s one of us for those 10 days.”
Over those 10 days, Ganesha is offered various types of food. Modaka, a sweet dumpling, is believed to be a favourite of the elephant-headed deity.
He is prayed to regularly, while necklaces made from flowers are placed around his neck each day.
Mr Patel has built a small shrine for Ganesha, complete with a model that depicts Oamaru.
“I believed that the spirit of Ganesha is right here in Oamaru.”
On the final day of the festival, Ganesha will be farewelled with coloured powder.
“We kind of party with him before his farewell,” Mr Patel said.
“We throw coloured powder at him, but we also do it to each other so it’s a lot of fun.”
He expected 50 or 60 people to attend Ganesha’s farewell at his home.
Mr Patel said the festival was massive in India, particularly the pubic events held for people who could not afford a statue of their own or to provide food for Ganesha.
Ganesha is the son of Parvati and Shiva and is the god of wisdom, success and good luck.
Mr Patel said anyone was welcome to visit him at his business, BG’s Takeaways in Thames Highway, if they wanted to find out more about the festival and Ganesha.