Lord Ganesha, the one tusked pot bellied Hindu deity, starts all things auspicious in the Hindu culture. He is worshiped for the said wisdom, prosperity and luck he bestows on his devotees. Looking at the idol of Lord Ganesha, the potbelly, the humble mouse as the vehicle, the large ears, the elephant’s head and the broken tusk, we can wonder how this deity is considered to be one of the most strongest God.
In our lives we encounter questions every day. Questions that bog us down and make us feel how to overcome problems and lead a happy life. Lord Ganesha’s ideologies are not esoteric and can be implemented easily if we go by his example.
In his physical form Lord Ganesha is pot bellied and has large ears but he has used his stomach to gobble demons and all the food that the arrogant Kubera served. He has large ears and an elephant’s trunk, but he uses the ears to listen to the woes of the world and the trunk to remove obstacles. He uses a humble mouse as his vehicle to travel around the world but the humble mouse can carry the mighty Lord. These ideologies help us deduce that in life all of us will have limitations. Limitations may not just pertain to what we are born with but also the situation life puts us in. It is solely up to us to use them to our advantage.
Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom. He exhibits other qualities like prosperity, wealth and knowledge too. But the reason he is primarily known to be the one with the most wisdom is because a man may have intelligence and wealth, but without wisdom he wouldn’t know how to direct the two into something fruitful. Lord Ganesha had the wisdom to write what was dictated to him by sage Vyas. He also had the wisdom to break his own tusk and write the Mahabharata, when his pen broke. The text is considered to be one of the most holy texts in the Hindu literature. The noteworthy aspect of this attribute exhibited by Lord Ganesha is that, it is important to finish what one commits oneself to. We might leave a task in the middle and not mind that it is unfinished if we face a hurdle. If we overcome the fear we may achieve something that is beneficial to us in the long run.
Lord of the “Ganas”, destroyer of arrogance, vanity and other inner demons, remover of obstacles, he represents wealth and propagates spirituality. This encourages us to attain the balance between spiritual growth and the material desires. The desire of wealth and prosperity is not evil, but having no purpose for it for others, who live around us, makes it useless.
Being on the most powerful Hindu deities he is perhaps the most approachable God. Due to his countenance and his lessons it becomes easy for everyone to understand and feel secure about embracing his faith. Though Ganesha’s lessons are tough to implement but the nature in which they have been preached by Lord Ganesha makes it easy for us to understand them.
Deepawali is one of the most popular festivals of the Hindus. It is also called the festival of lights. The word Deepawali literally means Deep meaning oil lamps and Awali meaning long rows. Deepawali is celebrated to commemorate the win of the good (Lord Rama) over the bad (the demon Ravana). Rama, Sita and his younger brother Lakshmana were in exile as ordered by their mother and father. Ravana kidnapped Sita, who was the consort of Rama, while Ram and his younger brother was away. Rama asked Ravana to release Sita, but all efforts were in vain. The last option was to fight and win Sita. The day Ravana was killed is celebrated as Dusshehra in the Indian subcontinent. On Diwali, Lord Rama came back to his kingdom and thus the festival is celebrated with extraordinary pomp and show in India. Rows of diyas or deepaks (oil lamps) are lit on this day. This is the most awaited festival and, besides India countries like Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Suriname, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Fiji observe a holiday on this day. This day is celebrated to signify the triumph of good over evil.
This day is also celebrated to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha to the houses. Lord Ganesha is the lord of prosperity and Goddess Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. Legend says that worshipping Lord Ganesha along with Goddess Lakshmi on Deepawali brings wisdom along wealth. There is an immensely popular story of Lord Ganesha. The story of Deepawali is in two parts. The first describes how an old lady’s wish is fulfilled by Lord Ganesha and, the other describes how Goddess Lakshmi gives the boon of wealth to a little girl who worshipped her. Let us first discuss the story of Lord Ganesha.
Once there was an old and blind lady who worshipped Lord Ganesha with sincerity and selflessness. Humble God as he is fondly called, thought that the old lady had suffered a lot in her life and now should be awarded everything she wants. He appears in front of the old lady and asks her, “Oh! Old lady, you have worshipped with sincerity and devotion. I am here to give you all that you want. Ask me what you want, I promise you that whatever is your wish I will fulfill that”. The old lady never worshipped the God with any intentions, so the simple old lady answered, “Oh my great lord! I already have what I wanted, and all my prayers have been answered by you. What else would one need in life, if i get a chance to have a glimpse of you?” The Lord Ganesha was impressed. Still he told the old lady to ask for a boon. The old lady said that she will think and would ask him something the next morning. Lord nodded and said that he will return the following day.
The old lady told the entire story to her son and asked what she should ask the God. Her son said ask for immense wealth and money as this will make the rest of our life happy. Unsatisfied with the answer given by her son she asked her daughter-in-law the same question. Her daughter-in-law suggested that she asks for healthy grandchildren. Still unsatisfied she told the entire story to her neighbors and asked them. Her neighbors told her that both her son and daughter-in-law are asking what will eventually make their life easy. They told her that she should ask for something that will make her life easy. They suggested that because she is already an old lady she should ask for the boon of sight and in the end Moksha (eternal peace).
For the whole night, she kept thinking and in the morning when she woke up and went to worship the deity, the deity reappeared in front of her and asked her to tell what she had decided. The old lady hesitatingly asked Him, “Will you give me whatever I say?”. The deity nodded his head in confirmation. The old lady then said, “ Mujhe sau crore ki maaya dein, nirogi kaaya dein, meri bahu ko amara suhaag dein, meri ankhon ka prakaash dein, naati-pote dein aur ant mein moksh dein”
(Give me billion rupees give me the promise that I would be healthy for the rest of my life promise me that my son will live longer give me my eyesight bless me with healthy and lovely grand children and in the end give me the eternal peace that everybody wants).
Lord Ganesha laughed and said, “Oh old Lady! Thou cheated me, still I promised you and I assure you whatever you have asked will be given to you”. In this way, an old lady got everything she had longed for in her entire life just by worshipping Lord Ganesha with love and devotion.
The other story is about how Goddess Lakshmi gave a boon to one of her devotees. Once there was a very poor, young girl who used to go to the Peepal tree (a fig tree) and pray to Goddess Lakshmi every day. Once the goddess came in front of her and invited her to her place for a feast. She said that she would ask her parents and would let her know. She went back to her place asked her for their permission. Her parents agreed and the Goddess invited her the following day to her place. On the following day, the girl as decided went to the castle of Goddess Lakshmi. The castle was like a large stadium, and all the amenities were there. The Goddess offered her a golden bejeweled chair and washed her feet with rose water and invited her to her dining area to have her feast. There was chhappan bhog (56 varieties of eatables). The girl completed her feast and, when she was about to leave, Goddess gave her a golden shawl (cloak consisting of an oblong piece of cloth that is used to cover shoulders and head). When the girl was about to leave, the Goddess told her that she will come for lunch the following day at her place.
The girl came back and told the entire story to her parents. She asked her parents how would they match the lavishness with which the girl was treated in the Goddess’ house. Her parents told her not to worry and told her to prepare food with utmost love and devotion.
That night while bathing, the queen of the place where the girl stayed, put her precious necklace by the pool’s side. An eagle came from nowhere and took the necklace away. The eagle threw the necklace in front of the girl’s house. The girl went to the market and sold the necklace and got a decent amount of money in return. She organized the feast with that money. Pleased by the hospitality, the Godess blessed her with wealth and opulence for the rest of her life.
These two stories tell us that if we will pray and worship God with sincere devotion and dedication, they will come and would release us from all the problems and evils and would grant us a healthy and happy life ahead.
Shree Lakshmi Ganeshay Namah!
Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as Vinayak Chaturthi. This is celebrated to mark the presence of Lord Ganesha who is believed to bestow his presence on all his devotees for ten long days. The festival starts in the month of Bhadrapad (Sep- Oct), according to the Hindu calendar, starting on chaturthi (the fourth day of the waxing moon). The festival lasts for ten days, ending on Anant Chaudas. The festival starts with the installation of Ganesha idols at homes and at especially erected pandaals (tents). The pandaals are decorated with flowers, lights etc. or these days are theme based. These days themes are either religious themes or on current issues.
The pooja (prayer) starts with the pandit (priest), usually clad in red colored silk dhoti and kurta, chanting mantras (Holy hymns and verses). He holds a pooja thali(a plate that has all the pooja items) in his hands. This ritual of chanting mantras is called as Pranpratishtha or Sthapna (foundation). Then shodashopchara (16 ways of offerings are offered to the Lord Ganesha) follows. Shodashopchar has 21 modakas (sweet dish especially prepared for Ganesha Chaturthi), coconut, jaggery, 21 druvas (trefoil) blades of grass and a paste made of kumkum and sandalwood paste is offered to the deity. Throughout the ceremony hymns from Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads (holy scriptures) are recited by many pandits (priests). Ganpati Stotra is recited every now and then during these ten days. Pandaals usually can see many cultural activities take place side by side. This way Lord Ganesha’s idol is founded at the Pandaals.
The foundation of Ganpati idol at home is totally different. Ganpati is brought by the male member of the family on the tritiya (third day of the waxing moon) at home, wrapped in a red colored cloth. The idol is kept at some clean place for the night and then in the morning is taken out to do the pranpratishtha. The one who had taken the sankalp (vow to do the pranpratishtha) should have a bath early in the morning. Then the idol of Ganesha is brought from the place where it was kept. The person who had taken the vow is the one who will do the pranpratishtha. The idol is taken out from the red cloth. It is kept in a big thali (huge plate) and then the shuddhikaran (purification) of the idol takes place. The idol is first washed wish Panchaamrit (a fluid of five things) i.e. milk, curd, honey, rose water and sugar. First we should wash the feet of the idol, then left and right hands, then the idol’s potbelly, and finally the panchamrit is poured on the idol’s head. Then the idol is placed on a wooden plank in the east direction. Before putting the idol on the wooden plank, we should first put a new and clean cloth on the plank. Now we should offer panchmava to the idol. The panchmava here means 5 different types of fruits, 5 kind of sweets, 5 dry fruits, clothes, paan-supari, and 5 flowers. After offering these, we should put the paste of kumkum and sandal powder on the idol’s head. Now we should offer moli (holy thread) around the idol. Now, the idol is offered naivedyam (food). On this day, we should try to make least 21 types of different food items. If not possible, five will work or even one will work if offered with devotion. A garland is offered to Lord Ganesha. Now clothes are offered to the Lord. A dhoop (incense stick) and deepeak (earthen lamp of either ghee or oil) should be put in front of the idol. A deepak (earthen lamp) of desi ghee should be put on the right side of the idol and make sure this deepak should not be blown out till the time Lord Ganesha is at your place. The stotra(short holy verses) should be recited with the presence of all the family members, relatives and neighbors. Everyone present now should sing the aarti. The prasadam (deity’s blessings in the form of eatables) is to be distributed among all those present. It is believed that someone should be present at home at all times and the idol should not be left alone at home.
This is the ritual with which we can invite Lord Ganesha at our home and can pray to them for the well being of our family and society.
Knowing about the rituals involved in the Ganesh Pooja Vidhi will help you to complete the pooja in the right manner. During Ganesh Chaturthi, the whole Ganesha worshipping community celebrates for ten days before immersing the idol water. In every home, rituals are performed to appease this all-powerful deity so that he blesses the whole family. In most poojas, a priest is asked to perform the pooja. It is also possible to perform the ceremony on your own provided you know the correct rituals. During the time Ganesha also known as Bappa remains in the house, he is pampered and a great deal is made around him. His statue is surrounded with decorations, a plethora of offerings and the Vidhi of worship.
Every pooja ceremony usescertain ingredients so one can complete it in a successful manner. It is the same with Ganesh worship. Some of the things that are needed are: a beautiful idol to be worshiped, red coloured flowers, laddus (Ganesha’s favourite sweets), sandalwood, incense sticks, coconuts, various fruits, a platform for the idol, the decorations related to it and sweets which are made from dates, coconut, poppy seeds and sugar powder. Once you have all the things at hand, it is time to recite the various chants which are relevant to this worship. The hymns repeated during the ceremony are taken from the Rig Veda, Narada Purana and the Upanishads.
After the ten days of worship is over, on the 11th day the idol of Lord Ganesh is removed from its perch. It is then carried through the streets of the neighbourhood before being taken for immersion in the river or the sea. The ceremony of Visarjan or immersion of the idol in the water signifies the return journey of the deity to his abode in Kailash. For it is believed that lord Ganesha leaves his abode for ten days to live amidst his people. And that is the time of Ganesh Chaturthi. The worshippers hope that their Ganesha will take all the worries away and leaves them happy and relaxed till the coming year.
The Vidhi of the Ganesha Pooja is basically hassle free and involves lots of jubilation and the coming together of the family members. Ganesha will only step into a house that is spotless. And so before the pooja begins every homeis swept and all the debris removed. While the Vinayak Chaturthi festival is celebrated throughout India, it is mainly celebrated with great pomp and acclaim in Maharashtra.