This little article arose from a simple greeting I made to ”all those who live in, love and connect with India”. It was especially meant for the great many friends I had made while working with India in the last decade and a half. I made my greeting via very simple Facebook and lLinkedin messages on the proper day , August 29th 2014.
The message was Happy Ganesh Chaturi.
Ganesha Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. In business in India, and in particular when non-Indians met Indians for the first time, a model of Ganesha is one of the most common gifts. (I can see three such models in my own office as I type this).
With a couple of days I had received more than 200 likes and quite a few return greetings. It was probably seen by well over a thousand people and although it couldn’t really be described as going viral, I was touched that it had struck a cord. I also noticed that many of the greetings I received were from non-Indians, mainly those who had some link with India’s hugely important IT industry.
The start date of the festival typically falls between 19th August and 20 September, varying according to the exact phase of the moon. Clay images – sometimes of enormous scale and ornateness – are kept in temporary shrines, and then with great pomp, they are immersed in water. This is especially popular and elaborate in Maharashtra and other parts of Western and Southern India. It seems great fun, although with true meaning.
Ganesha is a positive symbol. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He represents quite a lot of other good things, such as education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth.
But more than that – precisely because images of Ganesha are given so many times as gifts between Indians and non-Indians – Ganesha now represents connection between cultures, and modern India itself – a vibrant, complex country that is taking its place in the world. Of all the Hindu symbols, it is Ganesha that is the most known outside India and its diaspora.
So for all of you connected with India, and a little late (although my original greeting was on time), here is to a Happy Ganesh Chaturth, and success and auspicious beginnings for you all. Ganpati Bappa Morya.
Keith Haviland is a business and technology leader, with a special focus on how to combine big vision and practical execution at the very largest scale, and how new technologies will reshape tech services. Former Partner and Global Senior Managing Director at Accenture, and founder of Accenture’s Global Delivery Network. Published author and active film producer, including Last Man on the Moon. Advisor/investor for web and cloud-based start-ups.
The image “Ganesh mimarjanam 2 EDITED” by Vijay Bandari shown with this article is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.