I can't believe it! I forgot to invoke Ganesha when I started this website. I look at him every day when I get up, I gave a little statue to Robby when we started writing together, I hand mini-Ganesha's out to friends as they embark upon projects and business enterprises, and here I am leaving little Ganesh out of our virtual Helen community. Well, the time has come to invoke this special hindu deity and welcome him to the Helen family.
I know what most of you are thinking: who the heck is Ganesha and what does he have to do with Helen on 86th St.?
- Ganesha is this adorable Hindu god (pictured above) who is the "Lord of Beginnings and Success;" the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth.
- He's the remover of evil and obstacles and the destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride.
- He represents the perfect equilibrium between force and kindness and between power and beauty.
And after reading books about producing theatre all weekend, we are going to need his help.
So, here goes:
JAYA GANESHA, JAYA GANESHA, JAYA GANESHA PAHIMAN
SRI GANESHA, SRI GANESHA, SRI GANESHA RAKSHAMAN
Now, I was raised Catholic. I was christened, "first-communioned," and confirmed; but after years of being fascinated with spirituality and religion, I have opened my mind up to the spiritual treasures and pieces of wisdom that can be found in a multitude of religions. I've explored it all: Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, even Astrology, and they have all helped me to deal with what is at the heart of Vita's struggle in Helen on 86th St.-- uncertainty.
I may not have made you a Ganesha follower yet, but I do believe that the struggle to cope with life's uncertainty is something that we can all relate to. I completely understand Vita's desire to latch onto the idea that the Greek gods, most specifically, Goddess Athena, can help her. That they can make her mother's boyfriend Farfel disappear, make her dad come back, and allow her to play the coveted role of Helen in the school play.
Because, like the rest of us, Vita's life is filled with uncertainty. The uncertainty of whether or not her dad will ever return. The uncertainty of whether or not her and her mom will be able to continue to survive financially and emotionally without a male "provider." The uncertainty of whether a girl who isn't stunningly beautiful, but has the passion for the material, can play the role of Helen in the school play.
Uncertainty is hard--one of the hardest thing we humans have to deal with in life. And while I don't expect Ganesha to wave a magic wand and provide Robby and I with 5 million dollars and a Broadway theatre to produce Helen in next month, it does give me some peace of mind to have his cute little face looking up at me throughout the day, encouraging me to persevere.
And, most important, when I see Ganesha, I think of all the other people who are looking at him, worshipping him, and invoking him, because, they too, are struggling with uncertainty. It's kind of like being in a theatre, amongst an audience, as we all watch characters try with all their might to make sense of and cope with life's struggles.
One final story about Ganesha, which exemplifies how he "conquered the world," and in my opinion, why he's such a cool little god:
"Shiva and Parvati once asked their two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya to race around the world three times to see who should be the leader. While Kartikeya dashed off on his peacock mount, Ganesha was expected to make the journey on his slow-moving mouse. Showing wonderful logic and diplomacy, he won by simply circling around his divine parents three times, saying 'You are the world.'
Not only is he cool, he's also smart.