The Importance of Ganesh Chaturthi and the Elephant God

Ganesh Chaturthi culminates in the Anant Chaturdashi day. Ganesha is represented as a small, red, stout man, or a child with a big, fat elephant head, who 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.

During Ganesh Chaturthi countless small or huge Ganesh statues are erected of mud on altars in houses and streets for a few days to worship it amidst prayers, music, and dances. In honor of Ganesha, it is customary to prepare sweets like modak, ladoo, kadubu, and karanji. It is offered to the deity on home altars, temples or in the pandals.

Artisans prepare idols 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, and Puranas. People organize theater performances with the theme of the content of the sacred texts.

The murti of Ganesha is immersed into the nearest water reserve on this day. In Mumbai, in the last day, the idols are brought in joyous processions to the Arabian sea. In Pune, they are carried to the Mula-Mutha river. While in various Indian cities in the north and east, such as Kolkata, the murti is immersed in the river Ganges, where people sunk it amidst huge cheers.

Scholars agree that the origins of Ganesha precede the Vedic age. The theory assumes that the elephant-headed god was first worshiped both as a scribe and as a deity of the harvests by the tribes. The earliest figures of Ganesha are found in the Deccan region of South India, where sugar cane was, and still is, the main crop.

One legend says that the Ganas were once human, who had won the favor of Shiva. 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.

In Japanese, Kanji is used as the equivalent of the Hindu Deva. He is also revered in Buddhism and Jainism. Under the name Vinayaka, he is also worshiped in Tantrism. Here he is considered as a gifted dancer who can bless several women at the same time.

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

A bowl of Indian sweet Modak and laddus, signify Ganesha's weakness to eat. He is often represented with a snake. 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. 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.

Kartikeya took his peacock and managed it within a day. The wise Ganesha simply circled three times around his parents, who represented the universe for him. Impressed by his shrewdness his parents announced Ganesha as the winner.