Despite many believing the majority of ex-pats living in Tenerife are Brits, here in the south we have a large Indian community, which means that multicultural events are common. The Hindu community recently celebrated the Ceremony of Divine Light on the beach at La Caleta and the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi ended earlier this week when statues of the elephant-headed god were immersed in the sea.
According to Hindu lore, Ganesh, the son of god Shiva and goddess Parvati, was created from the dust on his mother’s skin. When Shiva beheaded his son — most believe by accident — Parvati was devastated with grief. To revive his son, Shiva replaced Ganesh’s head with that of an elephant.
The processions draw huge crowds not only of the local community but also visitors to the island who want to witness the immersion of the statues of Ganesh into the ocean. The idols are adorned with flower and other offerings and as they approach the sea, crowds chant, “my lord, return soon.”
Like all festivals on the island it is filled with joy and the massive attendance confirms that people from different countries and with different ways of viewing the world can live together peacefully, making intercultural life an enriching mutual element of everyday life.