Phnom Penh, Cambodia hosted a grand celebration of the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi for the first time last week. Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a ten-day festival celebrated in honour of Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity and the god of prosperity and wisdom. The festival kicks off on the fourth day of the month of Bhadrapada, which falls in August or September in the Hindu calendar.
The large-scale celebration in Phnom Penh was led by Kiran Reddy, Chairman of STAR 5 Developers and Krishna Reddy from SAAR India Restaurant, along with their team. The Phnom Penh Indian community, joined by their Cambodian friends and other expats, participated in the festivities to seek the blessings of Bappa. The Indian Embassy in Cambodia also deployed two representatives, Richhpal Singh and Abraham, to join the festival and receive Lord Ganesha’s blessings.
Ganesha, who is also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is widely adored in Hinduism and is easily identifiable with his elephant head. As the god of beginnings, he is worshipped at the start of many rites and ceremonies. He is also known as the patron of the arts and sciences and is revered as the remover of obstacles and the deity of wisdom and intellect.
The five-day festivities were marked by various cultural events and rituals, including a special performance by artistes from Mumbai on the dhol, an Indian percussion instrument. With the participation of more than 100 devotees, the festival concluded with the immersion of a Ganesha idol from a boat, accompanied by colourful celebrations and cultural activities.
India’s cultural and trade relationships with Cambodia have existed for centuries, and these ties have only strengthened over time. Indian traders were believed to have travelled to Southeast Asia before the common era, with Southeast Asian civilisations like the Khmers speculated to have visited the Indus River delta. Nowadays, the continued growth of Cambodia’s economy has attracted Indian businessmen who have established restaurants, pharmaceutical firms and other businesses in the country.