Idol of Lord Ganesha

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Immigration to this country, for my family, began with my father. He had just gotten his bachelors degree and was all set to come to the states to pursue his graduate degree at the Louisiana State University. As a boy who had never left his home before, he was terrified at the thought of leaving his family, home and country behind and starting afresh, alone in a foreign country. To ease his apprehension, my grandmother gifted him a small idol of a God in Hindu culture named Ganesha. She believed this idol would protect her son from the evils of the world and guide him in all his pursuits. 

Ganesha is the God of obstacles in the Hindu culture. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati and represents prosperity, sanctity and happiness. A common tradition in the Hindu culture is the gifting of this idol to someone who is doing something new, be it starting a new job, buying a new house and in this case immigrating to a new country. The gifting of this idol symbolizes that you are wishing someone joy and happiness in their endeavors and casting a watchful eye on them to protect them. There are many different forms by which people possess this idol, some wear a small pendant or a ring, the majority though have a miniature version on their side tables as easy access to pray to and confide in, in times of trouble. 

This idol, in my family, has travelled around the world. Starting from India it has gone to Louisiana to the Netherlands back to the United States and now sits on our mantle, waiting for its next journey. 

Place(s): India, United States
Year: 1989

– Pallavi Chintam

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant