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Ganesh Chaturthi: The Lord of Intelligence

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Spirituality

Ganesh Chaturthi: The Lord of Intelligence

May Lord Ganesh shower you with happiness and prosperity.

Birth

Well, everyone is aware of the birth story of Lord Ganesh. Although to summarize and remind it I narrate it briefly here.

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati used to stay secluded on Mount Kailash. One such day Shiva was away fulfilling other responsibilities and Parvati was home. On that day Parvati created a statue of a child from turmeric and breathed life into him. He became alive and was called Ganesh and he was loyal to him. After that she went to take a bath and wished not to be disturbed, hence she commanded Ganesh to guard the door and not allow anyone.
But Lord Shiva appeared and insisted to get in, but was refused by Ganesh. Being unaware of the mother of the child and being agitated and furious lost his temper and beheaded Ganesh
Seeing the dead body of her creation, Parvati threatened to destroy the creation. Brahma witnessed Parvati’s wrath and apologised on behalf of Shiva. Shiva also realised his mistake and he sent his troops into the forest to bring the head of the first animal they spot. The troops came across the elephant and hence the head of the elephant was placed over the body of Ganesh and he was brought to life.

This is how Ganesh was born as we know and is now worshipped as the god of gods.   

May the mentor, protector & remover of obstacles enlighten your lives.

History

It is unknown when the festival started. But according to the historian Shri Rajwade, the earliest Ganesh Chaturthi celebration can be traced back to the times of reigns of dynasties as Satavahana, Rashtrakuta and Chalukya. From that era up to Medieval India, there is no such information to be presented about the celebration.

However, everyone is well aware of the fact that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations became widely popular in India under the reign of the Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja. He initiated the celebrations to promote culture and nationalism. There are references in history to similar celebrations during the Peshwa times.

During colonial times, people were afraid of being arrested by the British police for public celebrations. It was in 1892 when Bal Gangadhar Tilak stood out and challenged the British government by organising public Ganesh festival by gathering thousands of people. It was the revival of Ganesh Chaturthi celebration in India and continues till today.

Keep calm and trust Ganesha.

Importance                    

As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesh is considered as the Vigana Harta, the one who removes obstacles and Buddhi Pradaayaka, one who grants intelligence. The festival is very important for students, they worship Lord Ganesh to illuminate their minds.

By worshipping Lord Ganesh on this day, one can bring happiness, peace, health, wealth and prosperity in life. People celebrate the homecoming of Lord Ganesh, who brings wellness and goodness. It is believed that devotees who pray to Ganesh can fulfil their wishes and desires.

The main essence of Ganesh Chaturthi is that devotees who pray to him are set free of sins and it leads them on the path of knowledge and wisdom.

When you focus on problems, you will have more problems.
When you focus on possibilities, you will have more opportunities.

Rituals

Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi includes four main rituals.

  1. The first one is Pranapratishtha. It involves the positioning of idol deity of Lord Ganesh into the pandals. This calls for a big celebration. People pray and sing folks while bringing the deity into the pandals. They play with colours as well.
  2. The second stage is Shodasopachara. It involves praying to the lord and offering him puja.
  3. The third stage is Uttarpuja. It involves a ceremony after which the deity can be moved from his position. After this ritual, the idol is moved among the public so that they can take his blessings.
  4. The last stage is the Ganpati Visarjan. At this stage, the idol is immersed into the river, sea or ocean, he is believed to go back to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati after the immersion.

Don’t tell Ganesha how big your problems are, tell your problems how big Ganehsa is.

Celebration

The spectacular festival of Ganesh Chaturthi honours the birth of the beloved Lord Ganesha, popularly worshipped for his ability to remove obstacles and bring good fortune.

Celebration at home – People install small and colourful statues at their homes to be worshipped during the festival. Flowers, durva, karani, modaks are offered during the morning and evening prayer sessions. In Maharashtra, one can see Hartalika that is observed with a fast by the women of the families before Ganesh Chaturthi. Sukharta Dukharta composed by saint Samarth Ramdas is sung in the honour of Lord Ganesh during the prayers.

Public Celebration – Local groups of youth, an association of people or clubs largely organise Ganesh festival. Funds are collected from public or donations from the rich. Large Mandaps and Pandals are made in public places where huge Idols of Lord Ganesh are placed for worship. Distribution of foods, sweets, clothing to the poor is also a part of the celebration. There is also an economic angle to the celebration.

Undoubtedly Mumbai is the best place to experience Vinayaka Chaturthi, but Pune, Hyderabad, Goa, Bangalore, Ganpatipule also offers an enriching experience.

Environmental crisis is more important than religious sentiment.

Devotion or Destruction?

I am also a Ganesh devotee and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi enthusiastically, but there are some environmental aspects about the celebration that wretches my heart. The Visarjan of the idols on the tenth day of the festival raises environmental and pollution concerns each year.

Generally, idols are made with Plaster of Paris with small quantities of plastic and cement. POP contains calcium sulphate hemihydrate, a material that takes months if not years to fully dissolve in water. In the process of dissolving it reduces oxygen levels in the water, killing the fishes and disturbing other aquatic life.

Shockingly, the more attractive and colourful the idols look, the more harmful substances it contains. The idols are coloured with bright paints containing heavy metals such as lead, nickel, cadmium and mercury. These chemicals increase the acid component in water that destroys aquatic life and they also disturb the pH balance of the water. Ganesh Idols are not immersed alone, the residue of incense, flowers, fruits, polythene, artificial jewellery are also immersed.

Be grateful and happy for the blessings of Ganesha in your life.

Alternatives

Taking a pledge for an eco-friendly celebration is the key and probably the only option because the environmental crisis is more critical than religious sentiment now. PM Modi in his Man ki Baat said – “Why should we not go back to our tradition of using clay for making idols?”

Well, this appears to be the best alternative. Making idols out of clay and stuffing them with fish-friendly materials such as corn, spinach, wheat and vegetable powder. For the beautification and colouring of the idols, organic colours such as turmeric, Chandan and gerua can be used effectively.

We need to figure out ways in which we can cooperate with the government and NGOs to contribute to an eco-friendly celebration of the festival. The environment is a legacy and we need to pass on to the next generation, so take a pledge to pass it in the same way if not better. 

Conclusion

Just as light removes darkness, the darkness of mind is caused by ignorance and is removed by knowledge and wisdom. Vinayaka, who is also known as Vigneshwara helps us overcome this delusion and enables man to comprehend his inherent divine nature. Vigneshwara is the deity presiding over the intelligence and he endows devotees with the purity of intellect and the power of discrimination of right and wrong and between the permanent and transient.

This year as celebrations is restricted to certain limits in the public places. Hence celebrate in your homes and develop intelligence and wisdom as Ganesh would want.

References

  1. https://www.calendarlabs.com/holidays/india/ganesh-chaturthi.php
  2. https://www.newshour.press/blogs/water-pollution-caused-ganesh-visarjan/
  3. https://www.firstpost.com/india/ganesh-chaturthi-remember-environmental-crisis-more-critical-than-religious-sentiment-2977254.html
  4. https://www.fnp.com/article/how-is-ganesh-chaturthi-celebrated
  5. https://www.theholidayspot.com/ganesh_chaturthi/history.htm
  6. https://www.timesnownews.com/spiritual/religion/article/ganesh-chaturthi-what-is-the-significance-of-the-ganpati-festival/480421
  7. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/events/happy-ganesh-chaturthi-2017-history-importance-and-rituals-of-vinayaka-chavithi/articleshow/65782142.cms

Comment (1)

  1. Anand Waghray

    Very well articulated.

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