Clearly, organizers of the 12th Annual Columbus Ganesh Festival know how to build bridges to common ground.

They understand that many area residents would say they know little or nothing of such a week-long Hindu and history India-oriented celebration — one that draws as many as 800 to 1,000 people to The Commons on its biggest, closing weekend, unfolding Saturday and Sunday.

But take a look at the main backdrop for Omkar 2016: a three-dimensional scene straight out of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” There was Mowgli, the young boy and central character, his friend Baloo the bear, Shere Khan the tiger and a snake named Kaa.

Perhaps the only tweak to the depiction included a small, colorful statue of a smiling Lord Ganesh, the beloved elephant-headed Hindu god of prosperity and prudence. Omkar is another name for Ganesh, sometimes spelled as Ganesha.

“This is an appeal to the kids,” said Sakshi Jain, the festival’s publicity coordinator of the decorations. “And it’s an appeal to the kid inside you.”

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.


Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.