Friday, September 17, 2010
Ganesh Chaturthi – a popular festival of India
The birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi, with lot of pomp and grandeur in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and many other parts of India. In Maharashtra and Goa, the preparations for this festival begin months in advance. This year, it was celebrated on September 11, 2010.Lord Ganesha is the God of Wisdom and Prosperity and the Dispeller of all obstacles. He is also worshipped as a protector and, variously, as the god of wisdom, arts and sciences, literature, poetry, and agriculture.
Hindus believe that by offering prayers to Lord Vinayaka (one of the many names of the Lord) before any new beginning or venture, helps in the successful fruition of the task.
According to Hindu mythology, Sri Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Kartikeya (the General of the Gods) His carrier or vehicle (vahan) is the rat. The mouse is depicts our EGO. Sri Ganesha, using the mouse as a vehicle, exemplifies the need to control our ego. According to our Vedanta, one who has controlled ego enjoys the transcendental bliss of Ganesha-consciousness or God-consciousness.
According to one of the legends, Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood dough that she had used for her bath and breathed life into him. She then let him guard her door and went to have bath. When Lord Shiva, her husband returned, the child, Lord Ganesha who had never seen him, stopped him which infuriated Lord Shiva and he severed the head of the child and entered his house. Upon learning that her son was dead, Goddess Parvati was distraught and asked Shiva to immediately revive her son. As a consequence Lord Shiva cut off the head of an elephant and fixed it on the body of Ganesha. Thus was Lord Ganesha born and created. He is also known the Ganaadhipati or the leader.
The four most important symbols carried by Ganesha are:
1) Pasa (lasso) - an instrument used to destroy desire or craving
2) Angusa (elephant hook) - represents control, or a means to steer one in the right direction
3) Tanta (broken tusk) - a divine weapon for destroying obstacles
4) Varamudra (attitude of blessing) - represents a wish for success
Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler, started this festival, to promote culture and nationalism in the 17th century in India and was revived by Lokmanya Tilak (Indian freedom fighter) to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy the British who had banned public assemblies in the last decade of the 19th century.
Besides the many households which bring in Ganesh statues and offer their prayers, many Ganesh statues are also installed on street corners in the cities and towns and villages in different parts of India. At the end of the festival, which may last from one and a half day to 5 days or 10 days or 21 days, these statues are carried on decorated floats to be immersed into the sea.
This Lord is even worshipped beyond India’s frontiers, in various countries in the following names:
• Mahabini in Borneo, • Totkar in Mongolia,
• Tchoprak in Tibet,
• Brahganesh in Cambodia,
• Kwanshidiyik in China,
• Vinayaksha in Japan.
He is also worshipped in countries like Nepal and Java.
Lord Ganesha continues to be India’s symbol of cultural ambassador to the various countries of world !