Ganesha Chaturthi: A Festival of the Hindu Elephant-Headed God

«Vakrtunda Mahakaye Suryakoti Samaprapbha

Nirvighna Kurume Deva Sarv Karyeshu Sarvada»

«O Lord Ganesha, of curved trunk, large body, and with the brilliance of a million suns, please make all my works free of obstacles, always». That’s the meaning of the above mentioned shloka (enchantment) for praising Lord Ganesha. According to Hindus, everything that is to begin should have an auspicious beginning and for that they pray to Ganesha, the lord of wisdom, prosperity and fortune. It is believed that by praying this divine being, one can sail through a smooth and problem-free life. Ganesha is the second son of Shiva and Parvati, two of the most beautiful, powerful and benign deities in Hindu religion.

It is said that Ganesha was created by Parvati out of sandalwood paste that she used on her body as cleanser. She made an idol out of this paste and gave him life with her «shakti» (power), as she herself is an embodiment of power. Parvati had made Ganesha the door keeper and instructed him not to allow anyone inside while she was bathing. Shiva was unaware of it as he was absent at that time. When he returned Ganesha did not let him through. This enraged him and the end result was Ganesha’s destruction. When Parvati got to know this she got infuriated and turned on her most frightening manifestation as shakti. To appease her Shiva instilled life back into Ganesha’s body though with an elephant’s head as his original head got destroyed and no one except an elephant king called Gajasur was ready to provide their life for the purpose. This was the rebirth of Lord Ganesha and since then he became one of the supreme deities of all.

Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi is one of the most wonderful and widely celebrated Hindu festivals that celebrate the rebirth of the same deity. It falls between the months of August and September, according to Hindu calendar which is considered to be the month of Bhadra. The festival lasts for ten days starting from the fourth to the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period. It is celebrated with great fervor and zeal all over India, especially in the southern part of the country including Maharashtra, Gujrata, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other states. In fact, gradually It is becoming popular all over the world. Foreign lands like Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, Mauritius and others have taken up to following this festival with fantastic celebratory urge.

Bringing Ganesha’s idol home and treat him like a special guest with proper rituals and ceremonies is the most prevalent way to rejoice this occasion. The lord’s clay idols can be seen in almost every house and pandal from a minimal size to a huge one. These idols are prepared beforehand by skilled artisans with an amazing gusto with a lot of color schemes and concepts using details in precision. His highness’s favorite sweet is Modak, a kind of dumpling with coconut and jaggery filling, so the devotees frequently offer him the same. The lord is prayed to remove obstacles from the journey called life, to enlighten minds and souls, to destroy all evils prevailing in the surroundings and to bless all. After the rituals the clay idols are taken for visarjan (to be immersed in water). It could be done after ten, seven, three or one and a half day’s time.

Sukhkarta (prosperity bringer), Dukhharta (misery eliminator), Vighana vinashi( obstacles remover), Mangal Murti (integrity personified), Ekdanta (single toothed), Dayavanta (compassionate), Chaturbhuja (Four handed), Ganpati, Siddhi Vinayak, Ashta Vinayak and Buddhi Pradayak are few of the names that the lord is designated with. By the end of this article I’d like to pray to Ganpati to bestow his blessings on us all and rejuvenate humanity with humble feelings and kindness.

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