Hindu and Buddhists celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi in Pattaya with an abbreviated festival culminating in the immersion of idols representing the “God of Success” in the sea to fete the son of supreme deity Shiva.
Pattaya tourism advisor Rattanachai Sutidechanai and Chaiwat Dechnatee, president of the Pattaya Ganesh Lovers Club, opened the 12th annual festival Aug. 21.
Club members paraded the statue of Ganesh through Pattaya and finished at Central Marina where believers lit candles, prayed and paid respect with pure milk, water and coconut water to shower the statue. The activities were repeated throughout the week.
The festival was cut to just one day this year, down from as many as eight days.
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival celebrating Ganesh’s arrival to earth from Kailash Parvat with his mother, Goddess Parvati/Gauri.
The festival is marked by installing Ganesh clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stages). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as prayers and brata (fasting). Offerings and prasadam from the daily prayers are distributed from the pandal to the community, including sweets such as modaka, as it is believed to be a favourite of Lord Ganesh.
The festival ends on the tenth day after start, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea.
In Pattaya, worshipers took the statue to the sea at Bali Hai Pier, placing it first on a boat. The ritual immersion of Ganesh images made of plaster of Paris symbolizes a ritual to see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees.
In Thailand, Buddhists recognize Ganesh as the “god of success,” appearing in Mahayana Buddhism texts in the form of the Buddhist god Vinayaka as well as a Hindu demon form with the same name.