The Ganpati deities at Fremont Hindu Temple. (Photos: Janam A. Gupta/Siliconeer)

San Francisco Bay Area Indian Americans say goodbye to Ganeshji. Glimpses of the immersion procession, that was held in San Francisco Bay, write Ritu Maheshwari and Janam A. Gupta.

San Francisco Bay Area devotees celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi festival for 10-days with religious fervor. Starting with a colorful festive ‘Ganesh Sthapna,’ every day was marked with decorating Lord Ganesh in different styles and incarnations. Aligning closely with the traditional Ganesh Chaturthi festival in India, the celebration in the temple immersed bay area devotees in the emotional and religious fervor throughout the period.

Chanting “Ganpati Bappa Moriya,” devotees prayed and performed poojaat Fremont Temple, Sept. 22, and headed for the pier in San Francisco, where a ship was docked to take the devotees to the Pacific Ocean to bid adieu to the Ganesh ji for this year. Over 500 devotees filled up a caravan of buses on their way to San Francisco’s Pier 3. It was a beautiful amalgamation of traditions and modern times, as statues made of bio-degradable materials and colors, made their way towards the Pacific Ocean.

The final leg of the journey for visarjan was onboard the ship, a 3-hour-long journey. Devotees carried over 600 Ganesh deities that local bay area residents gave for immersion.

As the ship reached under Golden Gate Bridge, everyone onboard participated in offering the deities to the ocean and chanted mantrasand wishes for Ganesh ji to come back soon next year.

Dr. Romesh Japra, founder of Fremont Hindu Temple said “Our main reason for celebrating this and other Indian festivals in Fremont Hindu Temple and Festival of Globe (FOG) is to ensure immigrant community stays anchored in its cultural and traditional roots, as they realize their American dream. Only when one is attuned to one’s heritage, can one make the leap toward the future. Our aim is to impart Indian culture and provide a platform to integrate the communities and culture.”

Ganesh Utsav every year gives our devotees and children an opportunity to participate and learn our spiritual thinking, traditions and rituals.

On the ship was a young Janam A. Gupta, 12, reporting live at the Bay for Siliconeer.Here’s an excerpt from his interview of Dr. Romesh Japra:

How would you explain the significance of this event to an Indian American kid like me?

“Absolutely Janam, first of all wonderful job coming all the way on the boat today with us. We have been doing this Ganesh Visarjanfor 35 years, which means that we are putting the Ganesha deity in to the ocean.

“What happens is all the bad deeds, all the kukarmas, we do throughout the year, he takes it with him. If by mistake, or by accident, we do any bad deeds, he would free us from all those. That’s why we call him the Rinharta, that means all the bad things we had on our mind, body, and spirit, has gone with him so now we could keep doing the good karmas, and that is the whole significance of doing this visarjan.

You do many events throughout the year and you are a very senior doctor as well, how do you organize this and how do you find time to do all this? What is the secret sauce?

“Well there is no secret, you have to be passionate about whatever you do. If you like something, you love something, even if you don’t have time, you make time for it. You have to set your priorities.

Dr. Romesh Japra and Sunita Japra (l) performing Ganesh Visarjan at San Francisco Bay, Sept. 22. (Ritu Maheshwari)

“You should get your act together, get your team together, and make sure you work as a team not as an individual. So, we take everybody else together, that’s how all these big functions happen and it’s like having fun all the time, when you’re doing good things.

“One thing I would like to tell you, the kids should do what they like, otherwise they have to like what they get. Always try to pick something which you like, you’ll be passionate, and you’ll feel good after accomplishing it.”

Ganpati Bappa Morya!


Ritu Maheshwari is VP, media relations and publicity at FOG. She lives in Fremont, Calif.