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Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi

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Published by Anil Sohoni
Ganesh Chaturthi is a major festival of Maharashtra,(India), where thousands of gigantic idols of lord Ganesh are immersed by huge processions of worshipers shouting, Ganpati Bapa Morya. With time, the festival has now gained popularity all over India, with celebrations in south India and Gujarat being no less spectacular than those of Maharashtra. The year 1893 brought a major change in the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. It was in this year that Lokmanya Tilak, an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter reformed the annual Ganesh festival, from being a private celebration into a grand public event.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a major festival of Maharashtra,(India), where thousands of gigantic idols of lord Ganesh are immersed by huge processions of worshipers shouting, Ganpati Bapa Morya. With time, the festival has now gained popularity all over India, with celebrations in south India and Gujarat being no less spectacular than those of Maharashtra. The year 1893 brought a major change in the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. It was in this year that Lokmanya Tilak, an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter reformed the annual Ganesh festival, from being a private celebration into a grand public event.

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Published by: Anil Sohoni on Sep 09, 2010
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12/19/2012

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Ganesh Chaturthi
 
 
The Significance of Lord GaneshaThe God for All Reasons
Everybody knows the story of 
 Lord Ganesha
– perhaps, the most-favored, or favorite, of ourgods. Yet, there’s more to the fascinating elephant-headed god’s tale than what meets ourmind.The Ganesha legend is a blessing – and, for all the good reasons. Because, unlike many fairy-tales, or myths – be it Indian, or Western – with their sometimes tragic results, everybody in thestory is happy.Most of us know the story of 
 how Ganesha
celestially “evolved,” thanks to
 Parvati’s
grace –Her little guard on duty as She goes for a bath. Her
 diktat
: do not allow anyone, whosoever thevisitor maybe. When Shiva Himself comes, He is stopped by
Ganesha
, who remains rock-solideven in the light of 
Shiva’s
all-encompassing powerful presence. The rest is history.The best part – all is well as
Shiva, Ganesha’s
father, gets him the famous elephant-head, andcontinues with His contemplation, Parvati, the mother, maintains Her sovereignty, and the son,
Ganesha
, lives on, “restored,” as scholar
 A K Ramanujan
, put it, “to proximity with Hismother.” In so doing, the
Ganesha
narrative also brings a fresh structure to the amazinglydivine event – a new model of father-son and mother-son relationship for our contemporarysociety.It goes without saying
 that Parvati
used Her great powers to declare that Ganesha be raised tothe level of God, and given very important tasks. Hence, Ganesha became the God in charge of removing obstacles, and also categories – a God, who plays a big part in lending a helping handto all human endeavors. Besides, He also facilitates us in all beginnings – the beginning of a journey, a business, a job, a project, or think of what you may.What appeals most to every devotee – from kids to grown-ups – is Ganesha’s lovely paunch. Ittells us why He’s so fond of sweets! Not why He has four arms – each with a special power foran especial “favor!” The elephant in Him represents the greater Cosmos, or the macrocosm – or,all that is beyond the Moon and stars. His human body mirrors the small Cosmos, or themicrocosm.A Ganesha idol – an indispensable element of every home – depicts a human being having inone’s persona the entire Cosmos, with all its spiritual energies and authority.Interestingly, there are other parallels to the Ganesha divinity. The closest Western “chronicle”that is analogous to the Ganesha story is Penelope and her son, Telemachus, while Odysseus is
 
away.
Telemachus
is his mother’s guardian. He is her only male ally. Penelope puts her suitors– who think that Odysseus is most likely lost – off by tricking them. And, when Odysseusfinally arrives, after triumphing over dangerous forces, we have a likeness to the moment of Shiva’s unexpected return to Parvati.However this maybe, there’s a novel dimension to the Ganesha legend than any other. Ganeshastands as a doorkeeper when His mother takes bath. But, He also reflects a mother’s grieving, inthe aftermath of Shiva’s homecoming. More so, because, every mother wants her son to receivea “new head,” not in the literal sense, but when what was sweet and delicious in their pasttogether, is gone, as a “new head” is placed. Hence, when the little boy, Ganesha, receives anew elephant head, He becomes somehow a part of the Universe in a much deeper sense thanbefore. He has, quite simply, transformed, or shifted, from the maternal realm to the social, andspiritual, world.In a purely Indian context, Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman [soul] -- the ultimate, or thesupreme, reality of human existence. His human body signifies maya, or illusion – the earthlyexistence of human beings. The elephant head signifies wisdom, and the trunk epitomizes Om –the sound emblem of cosmic reality. Ganesha also holds a goad, in His upper right hand, whichhelps Him to thrust mankind forward on the eternal path, and eliminate impediments on theway. What about the strap in His left hand? It is but a gentle tool to arrest all difficulties –surmountable and insurmountable.As far as the broken tusk Ganesha holds like a “pen” is concerned, it is a symbol of sacrifice –one that He split for scripting the Mahabharata. The rosary suggests that the quest forknowledge should be constant. The sweets He holds in His trunk indicate that one mustdiscover the everlasting sweetness of the eternal Atman. Also, Ganesha’s fan-like ears conveythat He is all ears to our pleas. This is not all. The snake “encapsulating” His waist representsenergy in all forms, albeit Ganesha is Himself modest enough to navigate the world astride thehumble mouse.The Ganesha story brings home an original message: that we must all do our own deeds out of inclination in our own world, and for our own reasons. Also, we must firmly hold to our owncentre, without pulling our gods far out of their centre, or asking them for special “gifts” like anew car, or winning a lottery!Reason: it’s only when devotion is observed without any ulterior motive can we purify ourmind and receive God’s – in
Ganesh Chaturthi’s
perspective, Lord Ganesha’s – Grace.
Another Story
There is also a story behind the symbolic snake, rat and the singular tusk. During one of hisbirthdays, His mother, Parvati, cooked for him twenty-one types of delicious food and a lot of 

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