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Indian student blog Divine blessing: Transported back home for a day

Ganesh effigy

Ganesh gets prayers and offerings from devotees in Zurich. 

(Devendra Shintre)

After six months of English and German, divine intervention gave Devendra the opportunity to converse in his mother tongue in Switzerland. 

As a Marathi (member of the Indian community who speak the Marathi language), I was feeling very sorry, that I was going to miss Ganeshotsav or festival of the Indian elephant-headed God Ganesh. For those who don’t know, it is a ten-day long Hindu festival and probably the most important one for the Marathi community. 

But I was in luck. Thanks to BMMS (Brihan Maharashtra Mandal of Switzerland: loosely translated to “Group of Marathi people in Switzerland”), I didn’t have to feel homesick. I celebrated the festival in Zurich with BMMS members. 

I never thought that, I would get to hear “Aarti” (devotional songs sung during the festival) in Switzerland.

No Indian festival is complete without delicious food. This was no exception. I got to eat delicious Indian food like palak paneer, gajar halwa, pakode, and tandoor rotis after so many days. It felt like I was back in India for a day.

Indian sweet

Modhak-shaped pedhas: a sweet typically prepared during the festival.

(Devendra Shintre)

Typically, the festival ends in India with a dance procession. We performed a traditional Marathi dance known as Lezim dance. Although I was born and brought up in the cultural capital of Maharashtra (the Indian state where most Marathis live), surprisingly enough, the first time I learned Lezim steps was in Zurich. 

A collage of Ganesh pictures coloured in by kids.

A collage of Ganesh pictures coloured in by kids.

(Devendra Shintre)

For the first time in six months, I got to hear and speak my mother tongue for the entire day. It was a pleasant surprise. Communal Ganeshotsav was promoted by Indian freedom fighter “Lokmanya Tilak” to bring people together and connect them. Back in India, the purpose of the communal festival has evolved and has become a tradition. This is the first time I felt that the communal festival has served its true purpose. It made me aware that there are almost a hundred people in Switzerland who can speak Marathi and helped me to connect with a few of them.

For more blog posts and information on studying in Switzerland visit our dedicated page Education Swiss Madeexternal link.

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