Ganpati Bappa Moriya!” announces Bangkok‘s most popular radio station. Ganesha — the most versatile of all gods possesses tremendous following in Thailand. He is omnipresent in the busiest business districts and popular in its most blasphemous streets. Be it elite fashion stores at Siam Square or lacy lingerie kiosks on Patpong streets, “His presence above cash counters is what keeps them jingling,” say shopkeepers. “Known as ‘Phra Phikanet /Phra Phikanesuan’, he is considered ‘Lord of business and diplomacy’. The Thai pray in Sanskrit, hundreds offer marigolds, coconuts, sugarcane and fruit juice to him,” says Assaya Suttikal, who sells fresh flowers and incense at Central World deity.
“Thailand is the only place in the world where there are more non-Hindu followers of an Indian God. The Shiva temple — Ramindra, Utthayan Ganesh temple — Nakhon Nayok and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at Thailand celebrate Ganesh Utsav with enthusiasm. Participation by locals gets bigger every year,” says Susheel Saraff, president of VHP, Thailand. Seven years ago, with permission from Thai government, VHP began celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi-visarjan in Bangkok. “Their only condition was that the deities should be eco-friendly. We import small idols from India and fly in artists from Pune to prepare bigger ones here. They bring material from India and are provided 45 days to sculpt and paint.”
According to the Thai calendar — September 1 to 8 —have been chosen for Nakhon Nayok celebrations. Some 106 km north of Bangkok, Nakhon Nayok has a 38 feet high idol. Decorated with Thai head gear and finery, it is an important place of worship. “We have arranged for five buses and 18 vans for vevotees. Prasad is homemade sweets, dried and fresh fruits, followed by lunch,” says Sanjay Kumar of VHP.