Ganpati Bappa Morya
As the universe is endless same goes with the festivals in the Hindu calendar. The numerous Hindu festivals, major or minor never cease to end throughout the year. Just as Janmashtami wraps up, Lord Ganesh makes a grandiose entrance a few days later, followed by Navratri, Dusshera and Diwali and the list continues. Therefore, roughly the whole year is festive for Hindus.
Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi is another important Hindu festival synonymous to Hindus as it marks the birth of Lord Ganesha, the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God is considered to be the symbol of wisdom, good fortune and prosperity.
Ganesha, as per Hindu mythology is the Lord of arts and sciences and is considered as Vighnaharta, one who removes obstacles & nuisance and Buddhi Pradaayak, one who grants intelligence and wisdom. He is honored at the start of ceremonies as he’s considered the God of beginnings and it is believed that those ceremonies or rituals are not fruitful if Ganesha is not worshiped. Known by 108 different names in total, he is popularly and dearly referred to as Ganapati ji, Ganesh ji, Vinayaka, or Bappa.
The Mythic Tale
As the era of Gods persisted a long way back on earth, the flow of time gave way to many different stories about the origin and life of Gods. In case of Lord Ganesha too there are a few different versions about his birth.
Legend has it that Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of dirt off her body and set him to guard her door while she was having a bath. Ganesha wasn’t aware of Lord Shiva when he stopped him from entering while guarding the gate, and challenged him for a duel. An angry Lord Shiva severed the head of Ganesha with his Trishul or trident, during the combat. Parvati got infuriated demanding that Ganesha should be brought back to life and Lord Shiva promised the same. The Devas who went in search of a head could only manage the head of an elephant which Lord Shiva fixed on the headless body of Ganesha and brought him back to life.
Some believe the above narrative to be true but with a different beginning that is Ganesha was created by out of sandalwood paste and Parvati breathed life into it.
Another tale says that on request of the Devas or the other Gods Shiva and Parvati created Ganesha, to be a Vighnahartaa, the obstacle- averter to help the Devas, and a Vighnakartaa, the obstacle-creator for the Rakshasas, the demonic beings.
The ten-day Fiesta
Ganesh Chaturthi falls on Shukla Chaturthi, Bhadrapada as per the Hindu calendar that runs through August & September, and the celebrations follow for the next ten days and ending on ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’, the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period. Indians celebrate it with great devotion and enthusiasm.
The sculptors begin their chores many months before Ganesh Chaturthi sculpting life-sized clay models of Lord Ganesha. The size of the idol varies in sizes from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet and in various color schemes.
On the day of the festival, the idol of the Lord is placed at homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents or Pandals, for people to pray and have blessings of the Deity. The devotees decorate the idol with different and beautiful accessories, garlands and lights, and flowers.
There are four main rituals during the festival:
Pranapratishtha – the practice of infusing life into the murti or idol by chanting mantras and anointing it with Rakta Chandan or red unguent and sandal paste..
Shhodashopachara – 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha which follows for the days to come.
Uttarpuja – the prayer or Puja after which the idol could be shifted after its infusion.
Ganpati Visarjan – immersion of the Idol in a water body.
As every festival brings with it loads of delicacies into the picture, this festival too is known for its dishes, especially Modak, Lord Ganesha’s favorite consonant. Devotees at homes and Pandals offer Modak, a sweet dish prepared using rice or flour stuffed with grated jaggery, coconuts and dry fruits. Laddu, paayasam are other delicacies made on this occasion and are offered along with the modak.
The offering platter should contain twenty-one pieces of Modak, ‘durva’ or arukampul (trefoil) blades and flowers, which is then distributed among the devotees as Prasad. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted to please the deity. During the festive days hordes of people direct towards these Pandals and at homes neighbors and relatives mark their presence for the blessings of the Lord and pray to end their sorrows.
The celebrations approach to an end after 1 and a half, 3, 5, or 11 days, as per the traditions followed in different states and by different families. On the last day, the idol is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with singing and dancing and loud chants of “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya”, to a water body like a river or sea for immersion which signifies a ‘ritual see-off’ to the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of the devotees.
Worship Him and Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path and Feel His Presence.
- Sanchit Pahwa