ALL FOR GANESH, 10 Sep
The festival of Ganesha Chaturthi, comes
in the Bhadrapada month. This
festival was initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Maharashtra and soon
its spread to other states. In Andhra Pradesh, it is observed with
pomp and splendour. Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom and success and remover
of all obstacles. According
to the scriptures, not only human beings, but even the various divinities
worshipped Lord Ganesha on different occasions. He is propitiated at the commencement
of every important endeavor, be it construction work, marriage or the starting
of a new account book. Vinayaka Chaturthi offers a merry occasion for youngsters.
They gather various kinds of leaves and flowers, prescribed for the
puja. The beautifully decorated images are taken
out in processions to the accompaniment of religious songs and music. Various
cultural programmes, competitions etc. mark the 10 days period. These idols
are worshipped regularly for several days, to invoke the blessings of god
and later immersed in sea or water.
Modakas, are offered to god, and later distributed to the devotees,
There are various legends related to one of the most loving festivals of India, Ganesh Chaturthi. Legends say that, lord Ganapati was created by goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva. She has created him with the dough she used for taking bath, as she needed one doorkeeper while she takes bath. For this Goddess Parvati has created one doll first and breathed life into him. And this day is known as the birthday of lord Ganesha. It is also said that, while Goddess Parvati was taking her bath Lord Shiva happened to come there and as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter the house. As a result Lord Shiva got angry and he beheaded Ganesha. But after realizing the real fact lord Shiva fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha's head and thus the appearance of Lord Ganesha with the head of an elephant happened.
Another most popular legend found in Skanda Purana says, once Ganesha was invited for a feast in Chandralok. The god, known for his ravenous appetite, stuffed himself with laddoos. When he got up to walk after the meal, he could not balance because of his huge stomach and stumbled. As he fell, his stomach burst and all the laddoos came rolling out. The moon could not contain himself and began laughing. Enraged, Ganesha cursed the moon, causing him to vanish from the universe. However because of the moon's absence, the whole world began to wane. So the gods asked Shiva to persuade Ganesha to relent. The moon also apologized for his misbehaviour. On Shiva's intervention, Ganesha modified his curse. He announced that the moon would be invisible on only one day of a month, and would be partially seen for the Ganesha Utsav most part.
Lord Ganesh or affectionately called Ganapati is commonly depicted in homes and offices throughout India as chubby, smiling and a little mischievous. His devotees ascribe to Ganesh the ability to bestow wisdom and wealth upon us humans, thus making him probably the most popular deity in the Hindu pantheon. To repay Ganesha's bounty, in India, especially in Maharashtra and nearby areas around September every year the entire population celebrates the ten day festival of Lord Ganesha's birthday. In the Hindu lunar month of Bhadra, virtually the entire population of the city celebrates his birth in the ten-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
The day is also called Dagadi Chautha, or 'stone-throwing fourth day', in some places, stemming from the belief that if one inadvertently sees the moon on that night, one should throw stones on his neighbour’s roof to avert any calamity arising from the curse. In Maharashtra, the great festival of Ganesha begins on this day, with his idol being ceremonially installed. The next ten days, before the beginning of the inauspicious dark half of the month, are spent in praying to the god. These days are considered especially auspicious due to Ganesha's presence in the idol. Vighneshvar, the remover of obstacles, reciprocates by using his powers all through the year.
As Lord Ganesha is considered to be the common avatar of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, he is worshipped by both the hindu sects, the Shaivites and the Vaishnavites.
During festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol of Ganesha is installed in an altar at home. The family members along with the help of a pandit (a hindu priest) perform puja (prayers) at home every morning and evening. They place offerings like flowers, rice & coins in front of the image of Lord Ganesha.
In the prayers that follow, it is customary to make 108 salutations to Ganesha. They read shlokas (invocation) and the Ganesha upanishad. Aarti (worship with a holy flame) is performed and hymns are sung. The singing of hymns has become a popular event during this festival.
These hymns are accompanied by the clanging of small musical instruments or gongs (called jhanja).After the ceremony, sweets and fruits are distributed to the guests and neighbors.
The celebrations of ganesh chaturthi are unique in itself with its fabulous festivities. Before the ten-day rite begins, the house and devotees must acquire a superlative state of purity. This is accomplished by cleaning or whitewashing the house or cleaning the place where the idol is to be placed.
During the festival small images are purchased from shops and brought into homes and enormous images are moulded from clay by professional craftsmen and set up in pavilions in every district and suburb. On the tenth day of the holiday or "puja" all the industrial-size images are loaded on flat bed trucks while the smaller ones travel in the back seat of cars or are simply carried by hand on the urban railways to the beaches of the city where this most beneficent of gods is immersed and his clay form dissolved in the waters of the Arabian Sea.
The event is now a colossal celebration and perhaps the world's largest religion-inspired beach party. Processions from all over Bombay commandeer the city's already congested road system riding on and walking beside trucks bearing the Ganapatis. Loud speakers shriek from the truck cabs and processionals bang drums and gongs while the orange-capped devotees on the back of the trucks shower themselves and everyone in their wake with red powder called gulal.