It is so interesting to know the fact that when people want to study the Indian culture, start with the stories and legend behind the festivals. India, being the land of multiple festivals throughout the year brings the impression more glued with the legends behind every festival. And of course, the more you get to know these stories the deeper you feel the faith in Indian culture and its majestic festivals.
The journey of the festivals can be initiated with the most celebrated “Ganesh Chaturthi“, some call it the “Vinayaka Chaturthi”; probably to make a “Shree Ganesh” of all the Hindu festivals, is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha every year during the month of Bhaadrapara (in Hindu calendar), starting on the Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period).
With a day remaining for the Ganesh Festival, the last minute preparations are on hike to pack the finishing touches of the ‘murtis’ and ‘pandals’. The sacred start off is awaiting when the country especially in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa is adorned with colorful idols of Ganesha. Ganesha, the presiding deity of Maharashtra is worshipped for 10 continuous days and during these ten days devotees from all over India especially in Maharashtra make devout prayers and offerings in front of the idol of Lord Ganesha. Whether at their home or at different pandals in the locality, people make a pious visit to the idol, pray for the prosperity and well-beings.
Pooja, dance and celebration; all the essential parts of the Ganesh Chaturthi can be spectated during these 10 days of pious festival.
Legend says, Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati is the symbol of prosperity, wisdom and good fortune. Parvati created Ganesha from the Sandalwood paste she used for her bath and set him to guard the door while bathing. Lord Shiva when tried to enter the room was inhibited by Ganesha and out of rage Shiva severed the head of Ganesha without realizing that he is his own son. Later he fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha’s head and blessed him to be the most superior lord in the world. From that day onwards, Lord Ganesha was also called the elephant-head God and was prayed all over India to seek blessings at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.
The idol of Lord Ganesha brings many symbolic features including:
Large Ears- listen more
Big Head-think big
Small Eye- Concentrate
One Tusk- retain good throw away bad
Small mouth- Talk less
Large Stomach- peacefully digest all evils and good in life
Trunk- high efficiency and adaptability
Mouse- desire unless under control can cause havoc, riding on the desires keep it controlled and don’t let it overpower you.
During Ganesha Chaturthi, the idol made of clay or plaster of Paris is being worshipped and then carried on the floats with processions which are attended by thousands of people. Drum beats, dancing and chanting are the part of these procession and immersion process marking the see-off of Ganesha taking away all the misfortune of the man.
The 10 day festival of Ganesha is not only a religious occasion but today it has also been considered as a community affair where every community or club has its own way of celebrating the festival. Not only in Maharashtra but this time our capital, Delhi is also taking an active participation in this pious journey. And the special thing about this participation by the Maharashtra Sadan is that this year they are playing something safe and eco-friendly. Where every part of the nation is casting the idols of Lord Ganesha with Plaster of Paris since it is easy to mould and can color it anyways, but is insoluble in water causing water pollution; the members of Maharashtra Sadan (Delhi) is approaching for the idols made of clay and painted with natural colors. An eco-friendly approach is not only saving the environment but is also reviving the old tradition behind immersion representing the “circle of creation and dissolution in nature”.