of India for the Year 2009
23 Sunday August 2009 - Ganesh Chaturthi
festival is celebrated on Bhadarva Sud 4th
Once Lord Shiva left his usual dwelling on Mt.Kailas
in the Himalayas, to meditate in one of the caves in
the same mountain. Two friends of Parvati, his consort,
suggested that she should have a 'gana' - attendant
of their own, since they were not too happy with Shivaji's
'ganas'. Parvati agreed. Soon after, using her divine
powers, she created a son, naming him Vinayak. She instructed
him to guard their home.
When Shivaji returned Vinayak prevented him from entering.
After some bickering, Shivaji beheaded Vinayak with
his 'trishul' (trident). When Parvati heard of this
she lamented intensely. Shivaji realised his error.
To set things right he sent his men to the forest to
fetch the head of the first living thing they met. They
encountered a baby elephant and returned with its head.
With his divine power, Shivaji placed the head over
his son's body. Instantly Vinayak sprung to life. Henceforth
Vinayak also earned the name of Gajaanan. 'Gaja' means
elephant. Shivaji blessed him with a boon that people
would first worship and offer him dedication in all
their auspicious activities. Those who didn't would
not attain success.
Bhadarva Sud 4th is the day Parvati was offering the
final pujan to the dead Ganeshji, when he resurrected.
When Shiva and Parvati decided to have their sons, Kartikeya
and Ganesh married, they stipulated that he who circumambulated
the earth first would be considered the best deity and
would be married first. Kartikeya flew off on his vehicle
- a peacock. Poor Ganapati's vehicle was a mouse which
was no match for a peacock. Being the choicest devotee
of God, Parvatiji consoling him showed Ganeshji a simpler
and quicker way. She advised him to cicumambulate the
cow since she also symbolically represents another earth
and he had reap the same benefit as going round the
earth. Another reference cites him circumambulating
his parents.Consoling him, Parvati showed a short cut.
She divulged that it was ordained in the scriptures
that he who offered pujan to his parents and then circumambulated
them received the same merit as he who went around the
earth. Ganapati hence married first showing that one
who obeys the wish of the choicest devotee of God or
his parents attains his desired wishes. Hence Ganeshji
is invoked first in all auspicious events, rites and
rituals such as marriage, opening ceremonies, ground-breaking
ceremonies, yagnas and so on.
The Shiva Puran cites another story. Prajapati had two
daughters, Siddhi (wealth) and Buddhi (intellect). He
approached Parvati and Shivaji for the girls' marriage
to Kartikeya and Ganeshji. However both girls wished
to marry only the latter. Thus they married him. Siddhi
gave birth to a son named 'Shubh' (auspiciousness) and
Buddhi to 'Labh' (merit).
Therefore when businessmen and merchants offer pujan
to Ganeshji and Lakshmiji they write 'Shubh' and 'Labh'
inside their account ledgers to invoke the two deities.
The first person to observe the 'vrat' (vow) of Ganesh
Chaturthi was Chandra - the moon. After Ganeshji's fame
as leader ('pati') of Shiva's 'ganas', hence Ganapati,
he was travelling through the heavens. As he passed
Chandra - who prided on his attractive features, he
slighted Ganeshji's peculiar form. In return, Ganeshji
cursed him, "You shall bear the fruit of your karma.
Whenever somebody does your darshan he will be cursed
too." Chandra begged for forgiveness. Ganeshji
then advised him to observe the Ganesh Chaturthi vrat
and was freed from the curse.
By being aware of the detrimental effects of false pride
one should cultivate humility. The Skanda Purana mentions
this sentiment of the festival.
The Vayu Puran advocates the observance of this festival
by listening to the following relevant episode of Shri
Krishna, to be relieved from false accusation:
When Shri Krishna was falsely accused of pilfering the
Syamantak Mani (gem) he observed Ganesh Chaturthi and
was freed from the false charge.
This festival also inspires devotees to inculcate two
virtues; obeying the commands of God and His choicest
devotee, and consolidating faith in them, just as Ganeshji
had faith and trust in Parvati regarding circumambulating
scribe the Mahabharat Katha Ganeshji removed one
of his tusks to carve a quill from it. He then scribed
the epic on palm leaves as the sage Ved Vyas recited
it. The scribing took three years!
In south India there is a belief that when ploughing
first began on earth, it was Lord Ganeshji who first
ploughed using one of his tusks.
In the Uttar Ramayan, Brahmand Puran and Padma Puran
there is a reference of a battle between Ganeshji
and Parshuram. During the duel, the latter's axe
fractured one of Ganeshji's tusks According to the
Brahmand Puran, it was his left tusk.
are other names related to his body and virtues.
A few commonly known are listed below:
- from the long - 'lambo', tummy - 'udar'.
- from the large elephant 'Gaja' ears - 'karna.'
- from his ruddy complexion.
- having a Chandra (moon) on his forehead - 'bhal.'
- one who has 'dwi' - two, 'mata' - mother; Parvati
- who gave birth to him and Malini - a demoness
who nurtured him.
- one who breaks the ego of he who behaves anti-socially
- In south India, a special 'Mudgal Puran' extols
Ganapati's glory. It cites 32 names, while
lists 51 names.
- One who removes mayic obstacles - 'vignas'
Since Ganeshji represents auspiciousness, his whole
being has symbolic imports for devotees:
Large ears - signify listening to God's katha
with great zeal.
Small eyes - to do the Lord's darshan minutely.
Large forehead - to develop great intellect to
Large stomach - depicts his great capacity to
empathise with the woes of devotees.
Short legs - depicts patience.
Long trunk - symbolic of his deep scriptural
Mouse as vehicle - a hyperactive creature, symbolic
of our indriyas. Therefore Ganesh sitting on such a
vehicle represents a deity of control over the indriyas.
Four arms - which hold: 'ankush' - symbol for control
over the mind
'ladu' - for happiness
'pash' - axe to punish the indriyas and antahkaran
'ashirvad mudra' - blessings for the well being of humanity
Depending on the role of Ganapati, the number of arms
varies, as do the type of objects.
On this day every household in Maharashtra installs
a small clay murti of Ganeshji in their homes. He is
offered pujan and prasad until Sud 14 - Anant Chaturthi.
This is celebrated with great festivity and fervor and
the murti is taken to a river or lake and submerged.
A well known chant is chanted during the procession
for submersion :
Bapa Moriya - Farewell O Lord Ganpati!
Gheema ladu choriya - Who avails 'ladus' soaked in ghee
Pudcha varsi laukariya - Return in haste next year.
Bapa Moriya re, Bapa Moriya re - O Lord farewell, O
Gujarat and in the Swaminarayan mandirs a clay or plaster
of paris murti of Ganesh is installed on Ganesh Chaturthi
and worshiped for ten days. The murti is submerged on
'Parivartini' i.e. 'Jal Zilani' Ekadashi. Devotees observe
a waterless fast. The traditional prasad offered to
Lord Ganeshji are chopped cucumbers and 'ladus' - sweet
balls of wheat flour, ghee and sugar.
Five pujas and arti are offered, together with a boat
ride after each arti before Ganeshji's 'Visarjan' -
In this manner Ganesh is a deity of auspiciousness,
wisdom and wealth. Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival inspiring
devotees to inculcate redemptive virtues in their lives.
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