An award-winning producer on how freelancers bring freedom and innovation to structured work environments.
For one afternoon each year, a quiet corner of Queens becomes a kaleidoscopic celebration of Hindu life.
The carved cement tower of Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam, or “Ganesha Temple,” peers over the tops of single-family homes on a largely residential corner of Flushing, Queens. Consecrated in 1977, the building was one of the first Hindu temples in the U.S. The choice of Lord Ganesha as central deity made strategic sense, because Hindus across India know and revere this elephant-headed son of Shiva. Hindus pray to “the remover of obstacles” before starting school, building a house or getting married. He is the Lord of Beginnings.
Once a year, tens of thousands of worshipers from across the US—and some from India—descend on this quiet neighborhood for a nine-day celebration. According to temple president Uma Mysorekar, the intent of the late summer festival is to energize the deity, who in turn energizes his followers. Followers register their fervor for Ganesha in volume and repetition. Over the nine days, devotees prepare and distribute fifty thousand meals. They intone Ganesha’s moola mantra, a short Sanskrit chant, some four hundred thousand times. Each day, priests festoon a Ganesha statue in the center of the temple in different colors–from white ash to red powder–and anoint him with honey, yogurt, clarified butter, turmeric paste, sandalwood paste and saffron.
On the final day, Lord Ganesha is washed with gallon upon gallon of milk before being lifted onto a sixteen-foot-high chariot. The temple assigns a team to walk before the litter with a giant pole to lift up the electric wires at intersections as Ganesha is paraded through the streets. Everyone else’s job is to follow close behind–dancing, singing and sharing treats on this culmination of the festival. It’s said that if you can’t come to the temple, Ganesha, being a generous soul, comes to you. Parading through the Queens streets, this universal god blesses all–Hindu and non-Hindu alike.
A new dad on the nightmare-inducing challenge of coming up with a timeless but fresh, cool but not too cool name for his son.
Amy Vilela lost her daughter when she couldn’t afford the medical bills. When her Congressman told her he wouldn’t support universal healthcare, Amy said, “I’m running.”
Cori Bush is a registered nurse, a pastor and a mom. After taking to the streets to protest police killings, she looked in the mirror and said, “why not politician, too?”
“The Boss of the Queens Machine” hasn’t faced a primary challenger in 14 years. But an underfunded upstart is suddenly giving him a run for his money.
Paula Jean Swearengin has seen West Virginia’s land exploited, its people fall ill, and its politicians do nothing. So she decided to do something herself.
But our latest Narratively story isn't available online. Instead, we printed the entire thing on a tote bag, and it's available only to Narratively Patrons.
Become a Narratively Patron today and we'll send you our first-of-its-kind Storytelling Swag Bag. Then a few times a year we'll send fun surprises for you to tote around, from books we love to literary zines and much more.Become a Patron