The Symbolism of Ganesh Chaturthi

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Ganesha is one of the most popular forms of the divine in Hinduism. For believers Ganesh Chaturthi held by the lunar calendar between mid-August and mid-September is one of the popular festivals through the year especially in Maharashtra, where a major holiday is celebrated in honor of Ganesha. It is celebrated for ten days, starting from Vinayaka Chaturthi. It was celebrated during the era of Shivaji and then reintroduced by Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a means of promoting nationalistic feelings when India was occupied by the British.

Here countless small or huge Ganesh statues are erected of mud on altars in houses and streets for a few days to worship the faithful, amidst prayers, music and dances. Ganesh Chaturthi falls in the fourth day of the waxing moon of the month of Bhadrapada, according to the Hindu calendar (September/October). In honor of Ganesha, it is customary to prepare sweets like modak, ladoo, kadubu, karanjis to be offered to the deity on home altars, in temples or in the streets.

Artisans prepare statues with terracotta, plaster or papier mache. Ganesh is well adorned with a red dhoti, flower garlands, silk fabrics and covered with red sandalwood paste. This ritual is called Prana Pratishtha and includes the chanting of Vedic hymns of the Rig Veda, Upanishads, Puranas. People organize theater performances with the theme from the content of the sacred texts.

This festival is celebrated and it culminates in the Ananta Chaturdashi day when the murti of Shri Ganesha is immersed into the nearest water reserve. In Mumbai in the last day the idols are brought in joyous processions to the Arabian sea, in Pune in the Mula-Mutha river, while in various Indian cities in the north and east, as Kolkata, the murti is immersed in the holy river Ganges, where people sunk it amidst huge cheers.

Lalbaugcha Raja is the most popular Ganapati kept at Lalbaug established in 1934, an unmistakable region in Mumbai amidst Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. It is trusted that this Idol of Lord Ganesha is Navsacha Ganpati which implies he satisfies all desires and consequently more than 1.5 million individuals visit this Ganesh Pandal every day amid the 10-day Ganesha celebration.

The Navsachi line is for individuals who need to get their desires satisfied. In this line you get the opportunity to go on the stage and touch the feet of Lalbaugcha Raja and take his endowments so that every one of your desires get satisfied. Be that as it may this line pulls in tremendous open and it takes around 25 to 30 and now and then up to 40 hours to get darshan in this line. There are 300 to 400 workers consistently to compose the occasion.

The second line in implied for Mukh darshan, to get a look at Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesha Idol from some separation without going onto the stage. This line likewise draws in enormous open and it takes around 5 to 8 hours and in some cases up to 12 to 14 hours to get darshan in this line too, particularly on Weekends.

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity and clearly recognizable form between the fourth and fifth century, during the Gupta Empire, although he inherited Vedic traits from precursors. His popularity grew rapidly and in the ninth century AD and was included among the top five deities. The worship of Ganesha in Japan has been dated to the year 806 AD. The Japanese name is Shoten or Kangiten. Japanese Buddhism considers it a manifestation of Shō Kannon Bosatsu. In Japanese Kanji is used as the equivalent of the Hindu Deva.

In this period there arose a sect called ganapatya, who worshipped Ganapati as the supreme deity. In India the statues are expressions of symbolic meanings and therefore have never been passed off as exact replicas of a living figure.

Ganesha appears as a hybrid of man and elephant. Other common names include Ganapati, Vinayaka, Vighnesha, Vigneshwara, Vighnantaka, Varada, Siddhita and Ekadanta or Pillayar in southern India. Under the name Vinayaka he is also worshipped in Tantrism, where he is considered gifted dancer and who can bless several women at the same time.

He is the overseer of Shiva's entourage and the intermediary to his father. Ganesha is presented as naschhafter, gracious, kind, friendly, humorous, jovial, intelligent, human and playful, mischievous, who often plays tricks. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati, with whom he embodies the ideal image of a Hindu family. Ganesha has the biggest presence and popularity outside India. He is also revered in Buddhism and Jainism.

Each morning among many Hindus begins with a prayer to Ganesha and is at the opening rituals of many Indian dance and drama genres. Ganesha is worshipped when people need luck, success or good luck for the beginning of a new company, a trip, wedding, construction, financial audit, exam or the start of a new day.

His affairs include poetry, music, dance, writing and literature, and he is the master of the science and commerce. Most merchants regard him as their patron and in almost every shop is a Ganesha statue. For many devout Hindus the first thing that comes into a new house is a statue of Ganesha. He can also be found on almost every hindu wedding invitation card.

Ganesha is represented as a small, red, stout man, or a child with a big, fat elephant head, which has only one tusk, often sitting on a lotus flower. His ears are shown larger than life, his eyes are small and his eyes are piercing and penetrating. With him is always his vahana, a mouse or rat.

In other representations he carries a book and a prayer chain. According to legend, he lost his second tusk in a fight against Parashurama. A bowl of Indian sweet Modak and laddus, signify Ganesha's weakness to eat. He is often represented with a snake, he binds around the abdomen.

An anecdote from the Purana narrates that Kubera, a rich man went one day to meet Shiva. He invited him to a dinner in his opulent mansion so that he can exhibit all his riches. Shiva denied but instead sent his son Ganesha, a voracious eater. Unconcerned, Kubera felt ready to meet his insatiable hunger. He took the little son of Shiva to his city and offered him a ceremonial bath and dressed him in sumptuous clothing.

After these initial rites, the great banquet began. While the servants of Kubera undertook at best to serve all the dishes, the little Ganesha began eating, eating and eating. Ganesha devoured everything and, with signs of impatience, waited for new food. Terrified, Kubera prostrated himself before the little omnivorous and begged him to relent. Kubera desperately, rushed him to Shiva.

Many myths are about Ganesha's infinite wisdom and his great ingenuity. They tell, for example, of how Shiva and Parvati call their children Ganesha and Karttikeya on to a competition in which the winner will receive a fruit as a reward. The task was to come first by circumnavigating a selected location. Kartikeya took his peacock and managed it within a day. The wise Ganesha simply circled three times his parents, who represented the universe for him. Impressed by his shrewdness his parents announced Ganesha then the winner.

About the question of Ganesha's marriage status there is no consensus in India. In northern India he is considered married. In southern India the god is however considered a lifelong bachelor. A myth to explain is that Ganesha promised only to marry a woman, if she was just as beautiful and perfect as his mother Parvati. This according to Hindu understanding was not possible.

The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganapati Upanishad of the rishi Atharva, Ganapati Atharva Sirsha, the Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana. The prayer recited in his honor is called Ganesha chalisa.
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