Om gam ganapate namah

Eddie Stern from the 2012 Confluence. Photo by Michelle Haymoz of
Eddie Stern from the 2012 Confluence. Photo by Michelle Haymoz of .

Things were warmer by the bay this year, than last, but still brisk.

Lots of polar fleece. Beenies. Scarves.

We were in our doti and sari because, really, when else are you going to be able to wear them?

As with the 2012 Confluence, Eddie Stern’s Ganesha puja has set the tone for the weekend. The stage is sanctified, the way is open. But will there be no challenges?

Doubtful. As Eddie said at one point, the obstacles are there so when you get past them, you’ve learned something. What we will learn this weekend awaits.

As always, it was amazing to hear Eddie’s clear and musical sanskrit chanting. And not without elucidation and interpretation along the way. Those of us not fluent in sanskrit then know what’s being said, and what we all are saying.

The teachers were all on the stage with Eddie, and with their families. And they participated, representing us in the puja.

A funny moment — and if you remember last year’s Confluence or our coverage, you know that funny moments are pretty central to the weekend — came as Eddie rattled through Ganesha’s 108 names. It was Tim Miller’s job to offer flowers for each one.

Effectively, what that means is each time Eddie said, “Namo,” Tim was supposed to toss a flower to Ganesha.

Well, with a bit of a time constraint and dinner awaiting the 300 or so people participating, not to mention Eddie’s fluency, Eddie moved through the names at a pretty magnificent clip. Tim didn’t quite keep up, but they both got through it.

Eddie, we must say — and, as we often note, we are certainly biased — has a wonderfully balanced presentation, grounded at times in the grosser world — he illustrated the non-verbal communication involved in the ritual (and in our lives) with hand gestures including the Hawaiian “hang loose” — and at others in a learned, subtle one. He chanted the sanskrit for us all, but also brought everyone along. It’s not an easy thing.

Once the puja is completed, a symbolic representation of Ganesha in tumeric form is taken to the water and all its blessings are sent out in to the world, into the universe. The Confluence participants followed Eddie to the bay’s edge, chanting, “Om gam ganapate namah“. Yes, tourists (and probably locals) snapped photos and took video.

With a loud “Jai!” Eddie threw the Ganesha into the water, and our Confluence was under way. (It should be noted, Eddie again waded into the cold and somewhat funky bay.)

And then, more conversations and reunions with friends we haven’t seen in a year, or maybe in just a few weeks. And some dinner.

Tomorrow morning, Led class with Dena Kingsberg awaits at 7 a.m.

And a final thought. Last year, we watched, with wonder and delight, as Eddie chanted Ganesha’s 108 names. This year, we knew what arati is, and we reached out our hands for enlightenment, and brought our hands to our eyes so we could see more clearly.

We looked into the eyes of Ganesha, and Ganesha saw us. Everything was different now, as we prayed with Eddie.

Posted by Bobbie and Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

5 thoughts on “Om gam ganapate namah”

  1. This is lovely.

    It does make me think about the controversy regarding yoga in the schools, though. When I read this, as an Ashtangi, I feel reverence and devotion. I also see where a non-Hindu parent might be reluctant about the physical practice that is inextricably bound to this spiritual/religious form.

  2. Beautifully written. Funny but I had the same thoughts around the ongoing lawsuit as I read this, wondering what the tourists/ non-participants witnessing the puja were thinking as it took place.

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