In India, the festivities bring a great fervor and enthusiasm in the common folks. One such festival is the birth of the elephant headed deity, the son of Lord Mahadeva and Goddess Parvati, Ganesh. His birth is celebrated as a eleven day festival and is an auspicious occasion in the Hindu festivals called as Ganesh Chaturthi. It is also known Ganesh Utsav or Vinayak Chaturthi and is mostly celebrated in the month of August or September or you can fondly call it Bhadra or Bhadrapada (The sixth month of the Hindu Calendar.)
Lord Ganesh or Vinayak is the God of the New Beginning, obstacle remover and wisdom provider. It’s ardently said and believed— before starting a novice enterprise or any official engagement, praying to Ganpati (devotees also address him with love) will set forth success for your life and work.
In the dozens of stories of its origin, the most believable and the famous one is that Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesha by accumulating the dirt from her body to guard her in the absence of God Shiva. She assigned the newly birthed God the task of safeguarding the bathroom while she took the bath. When God Shiva returned home, he was keen on meeting the Goddess but Ganesha, who didn’t know his father, didn’t allow him to enter the premises, keeping up his promise to his beloved mother. This angered God Shiva and a war broke in between the son-father, which resulted in God Shiva cutting the head of his son, Ganesha.
When the mother saw her son beheaded, she took the form of Goddess Kali swearing to destroy the entire planet. To calm her down, God Shiva promised her to return Ganesha in any way possible. He urged his followers to go and get the head of a child but on not finding anything reasonable, the followers brought the baby elephant’s head. God Shiva fixed the elephant’s head on his son’s body and the entire heaven blessed him with supreme powers. That’s how Gajanan aka Vinayak was born and is now worshipped as the most intelligent and prosperous God of all times.
During the war with the Mughals, The Maratha ruler, Shivaji (1630-80) used Ganesh Chaturthi to invoke love for the country and its interests in the heart of his subjects. The festival was revived again in 1893 in a public ceremonial procession by the nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak when the British banned the political assemblies in the country. Now, it’s the life of the Hindu communities and is popularly the cultural festival of the entire state of Maharashtra and it’s parts.
A procession with music instruments and dancers is organized to welcome the God in homes or in outdoor tents. The clay or ceramic idol of Ganesh adorned with garlands, jewelry, and sacred clothing is placed on a raised platform. The prayers resume with Pranapratishhtha in which the priest chants hymns to invoke life in the deity. In another 16 different ways or Shhodashopachra, prayers are offered to continue the joy and devotion.
Celebration proceeds with singing and dancing on religious songs and offering Ganpati Bappa, the sweet delicacy called Modaks. With utmost faith the womenfolk of the house prepare the coconut, flour and jaggery Modaks to present to the Lord. It has been preserved for centuries and is thoroughly known that Lord was fond of the sweet dumplings made by Goddess Parvati. Other delicacies are also prepared and offered to the Lord before being distributed into the communities.
As per the requirement of the devotee, you perform the Uttarpuja in which you bid farewell to the God before immersing it into the nearby stream of water. The ritual comes to an end with Ganesh Visarjan and with a promise by the Lord that he will come soon, the next year.
If you read this article, then you must have really gotten excited to witness this grand ceremony yourself for it’s the most beautiful and brings immense peace to you and your loved ones.
Don’t forget to bring Bappa to your home, next year. Ganpati Bappa Morya.