Ganesha Chaturthi : Its time to worship God of Wisdom, Prosperity and Fortune
Ganesha Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrating rebirth of Lord Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period, usually between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).
Ganesha is widely worshiped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. This year the festival is all set to be celebrated on the 29th of August.
The rituals of idol creation starts months in advance and continues till the immersion of the idol.
It is believed that Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then let him stood guard while she went to take her bath. When Lord Shiva returned, as Ganesha didn’t know him, didn’t allow him to enter. Getting enraged by this Lord Shiva asked his follower Ganas to teach the child manners. Ganesha who was very powerful, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of Shakti, defeated Shiva’s followers and declared that nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing. Angered, the king of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn’t stand a chance. Angry Shiva then severed the head of the child. Parvati seeing this became enraged. Seeing Parvati in anger Shiva promised that her son will be alive again. Searching for the head of dead person facing North, but the devas found only the head of a dead elephant. They brought the head of the elephant and Shiva fixed it on the child’s body and brought him back to life. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day the boy would be called Ganesha, thereby Vighnabinashak came into existence.
The skilled artisans across the country prepare colourful Ganesha idols in vivid poses with the size varying 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet. The tallest Ganesha Idol made which stood 117 feet tall was situated in the city of Visakhapatnam in 2012. With well decorated pandals in the city the idols are placed to be worshipped.
The priest clad dhoti and uttariyam (Shawl), with the chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesha using the statue as a channel for his energy. This ritual is the Pranapratishtha. After this the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
21 Modaks a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jiggery is the main offering to the Ganapati. It is either steam-cooked or fried. On this day students and even service holders, businessmen put their books and notes in front of the Lord and offer prayers. Therefore Ganesha is also known as ‘Buddhi Pradaayaka’. One of the interesting facts about the festival is not to see the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi as the moon got a curse from Ganapati since moon had laughed at him when HE fell from the back of rat.
As Ekadanta, the Lord has limitless powers, as Heramba he removes obstacles, as Lambodara he protects the world, as Surpa Karna he shows compassion by giving the highest knowledge. Though Durba or the trefoil leaves of grass along with red flowers are used to decorate and worship the Ganesh idol, yet Tulsi leaves are never used for Ganapati puja rituals.
Lord Ganesh is worshipped in different forms in India including our state odisha and abroad. At Jabbalpore the Lord appears as a female, at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh appears as playing a flute. He is worshipped as Mahabini in Borneo, Totkar in Mongolia, Tchoprak in Tibet, Brahganesh in Camodia, Kwanshidiyik in China and Vinayaksha in Japan.
The festival continues for 10 days and on the 11th day after the final offerings of coconut, flowers and modaks, the idol is taken on procession before being immersed in the lakes-rivers-sea. The festival ends with appeal to Ganesh to return the next year with chants of ‘Ganapati Bappa Moriya Pudchya Varti Laukar Yaa’(Lord Ganesh, please come soon next year).