NHSF (UK) Learning Team
29th August 2014 (4 Bhaadrapada)
Ganesh Chaturthi also known as ‘ Vinayak Chturthi’ or ‘ Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesh. It is observed during the month of Bhaadrapada.
Ganesh is the Lord of good fortune who provides prosperity, fortune and success. He is the Lord of beginnings and the remover of obstacles of both material and spiritual kind. He is also considered to be a patron of the arts and sciences and of the letters.
Once, Lord Shiva left his usual dwelling on Mt.Kailas in the Himalayas, to meditate in one of the caves of another mountain. Two friends of Parvati, his consort, suggested that she should have a ‘gana’ – attendant of their own, since they were not too happy with Shivaji’s ‘ganas’. Parvati agreed. Soon after, using her divine powers, she created a son from the mud of her own body, naming him Vinayak. She instructed him to guard their home.
When Shivaji returned Vinayak prevented him from entering. After some bickering, Shivaji became angry as he did not know who Vinayak was. Shivaji then beheaded Vinayak with his ‘trishul’ (trident). When Parvati heard of this she lamented intensely. Shivaji realised his error. To set things right he sent his men to the forest to fetch the head of the first living thing they met, with its head facing the North. The only elephant Shivaji’s men could encountered was a baby elephant and returned with its head. With his divine power, Shivaji placed the head over his son’s body. Instantly Vinayak sprung to life. Henceforth Vinayak also earned the name of Gajaanan. ‘Gaja’ means elephant.
Lord Shiva made His son worthy of worship by stating that all would first worship and offer him dedication in all their auspicious undertakings, marriages, expeditions and studies. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha should take place on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad. Without the Grace of Sri Ganesha and His help nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No action can be undertaken without His support, Grace or blessing.
Festival & Ritual
During the festivals day’s beautifully sculpted Ganesh idols are installed in the Mandaps (large tents) that are colourfully decorated, depicting religious themes or current events. There are huge public displays of Ganesh idols with Aarti (song of devotion to God) and loud music and dancing by the devotees. Five pujas and arti are offered, together with a boat ride after each arti before Ganeshji’s ‘Visarjan’ – submergence.
This activity is most popular in Bombay and Pune, with “Shrimant Dagadu Shet Halwai Ganapati” in Pune being the main attraction of the Utsaav. Many cultural events are organised and people participate in them with keen interest. On the tenth day, huge processions carry images of the God to be disposed off into the water, hoping for them to return early next year. When the idols are immersed in the water, people sing:
“GANPATI BAPPA MORYA, AGLE BARAS TO JALDI AA,” (“Father Ganpati, Next Year Come Again”)
O Ganpati Bapa Moriya – Farewell O Lord Ganpati!
Gheema ladu choriya – One who avails ‘ladus’ soaked in Ghee
Pudcha varsi laukariya – Return in haste next year
Bapa Moriya Re, Bapa Moriya Re – O Lord, farewell; O Lord, farewell…
In this manner Ganesh is a deity of auspiciousness, wisdom and wealth. Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival inspiring devotees to inculcate redemptive virtues in their lives.