A human body with a rounded belly, and an elephant head with big ears. Head and trunk curved into an Om, the most sacred of symbol representing the primeval sound of creation. A crown on the head. A broken tusk. Lotus in one hand, a hatchet in the other. The third hand upraised in blessing, and the fourth palm facing outward. One foot on the ground, the other resting on the knee above the ground. A tray of sweets by the side, a mouse on the other.
A deity as complex as the people who worship him, Lord Ganesh is an epitome of a life that is as euphoric as it is familiar. He is known to have been born from the desire of Goddess Parvati, with her consideration to have someone who would guard her, especially when bathing. Hence, she decided to use the ubbatan that she used for herself religiously, made of sandalwood, turmeric and clay, in the shape of a boy and breathed life in it, as a manifestation of having someone as loyal for her as was Nandi to Shiv. But Lord Shiva did not like being questioned by an unknown source when he was refused to enter the house. Enraged, he hit Ganesha with led to his head being separated from the body. Parvati was baffled at this instance and cursed Lord Brahma to end the world after the misdeed. Lord Brahma apologized to her and pleaded to her to reverse the curse provided Ganesh was brought to life. Lord Shiv could not bear seeing Goddess cry so profusely over the death of the young boy. He ordered his ganas in search of a dead animal and bring its head. The Ganas wandered around only to find a baby elephant and severed its head. Thus, when the head was placed over the lifeless body of the body, the boy was retrieved to life and was bestowed with miraculous powers and diligence. .He was heralded as the synonym of sanctity and piousness in all rituals of Hinduism and reckoned as the God of beginnings. The head is known to be that of Airawata, Lord Indra’s elephant and thus, cutting of head marks the end of monsoon and reckoning of a great harvest season ahead with the rebirth and creation of Lord Ganesha
Considered to be the Pratham Pujya, it has earned reverence and boon of being more worshipped and celebrated than even its father, Lord Shiv, and the first to be acknowledged from the Gods in Hindu pantheon when entering a temple. Gan-made of Panchbhutas and Pati means Master His grace is invoked before undertaking any task, to solicit the blessings of the supreme consciousness that pervades all and brings unification in the world. By receiving grace, instead of propitiating each gana to receive blessings. If we don’t not honour and offer grace to the gana, every action is deemed to be a form of thievery. Instead of propitiating each Gana- that denotes all the classes of being, from a small insect to subtle and celestial beings, we bow to their lord, Ganpati.
The God of New Beginnings, is blessed with 32 names and aworld of symbols, that reflect deeper meaning of humility, sacrifice and knowledge. The personification reveals treasures of spiritual and philosophical values. Right from the opulence and abundance of intellect indicated in his consideration of parents as the metaphorical and literal world of a being, to the modesty of using the tusk and realising the inadequacy of the pen to write Mahabharat dictated by sage Vyaas, who envisioned him as worthy of understanding the holy book, Lord Ganesh has manifested the oneness of body sense and divinity.
“What big ears you have, Ganesha!”
“All to hear your prayers!”
Reminiscing on the utter marvel and splendour of the human sentiment, Ganesh Chaturthi is the heralded as the most democratic festival in spirit, understanding, appreciating and reciprocating the sentiment of devotion, austerity, enthusiasm and honour. A smiling Ganpati is an all-embracing deity that is a testament for karma shakti and gyan shakti, a patron of art and science.
The eleven-day festival that commences on Shukla Paksha Chaturthi of Bhadrapada dates back to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja and continued to be followed by the Peshwas. This was further popularised and revived by the legendary nationalist Lokmanaya Tilak, to chart the social and cultural fabric of unity among the Indians against the British Rule. Another anecdote that gained momentum is the instance when Ganesh cursed the moon to be invisible on a night when it mocked him for his predicament. Relenting to the incessant apologies for the fear of losing its existence, and pleased enough to relieve the curse the moon’s cycle of appearance and disappearance every fifteen days was brought forth. Except sighting the moon on the day his birth would be as good as a curse, Mithya Dosh is regarded to befall the onlooker, falsely implicating the person of stealing something.
The benign arrival of the idol of Ganesh, usually made of mud, (as is perceived that Goddess Parvati used the same to carve the real one), begins with the Praanprathishta, when life is incepted in the idol and the deity is placed on a pandal or in the home. The next ritual, Shodhashopchara, is marked by exchange of sweets, through welcome and worship for 10 days, sharing joy, happiness and prosperity with the devotees.Modak, a set of 12 traditional dumpling, is considered to be lord’s favourite bhog, as it was requested by Goddess Parvati to be offered to her son, and also serves as a reminder to the devotees about the bittersweet nature of life. Though he is never seen eating it, Lord Ganesh reiterates that a wise man never partakes the benefit of his deeds, and the only ingredient to satiate the hunger is goodwill, humility and devotion.
Before the immersion of the idol in water, symbolic of, is Uttarpuja, when the deity is prepared to be taken for its the merger with nature and is also a pronunciation of the fact that nothing lasts forever, and what we make must be disintegrated to be reintegrated again when the wheel of life takes a full circle. Dressed and adorned in flowers, the idol is carried in elaborate processions through the streets and immersed in water for Ganesh Visarjan, on the 11th day, i.e., Ananat Chaturdashi, as a metaphor of farewell to his family in Mount Kailash, while carrying with him the misfortunes of his devotees.
Thus, the festival represents an institution in itself, and prongs to an intensely humbling and truly gratifying spiritual experience that helps us understand, appreciate and reciprocate the prerogative to incur and contrive the humane in humanity.