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.
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.
There are different prayers to Lord Ganesha for different festivals and each has a specific ritual that must be followed closely. In order to be able to do that, one needs a better understanding of the rituals. As a devotee it is expected that one must have the ability to be partake in these rituals in the correct manner.
The Lord Ganesha rituals start with using different auspicious items. For most Lord Ganesha prayers tulsi leaves are always used. Tulsi is a herb believed to be very auspicious. The priest performs many different kinds of worshiping acts to please the Lord Ganesha. The rituals contain a lot of mantras to be chanted, followed by 16 steps of Lord Ganesha worshiping. These 16 steps are the most important rituals of Lord Ganesha prayers. You have to know them and understand them well first.
The 16 steps start with calling Lord Ganesha to come to earth and join the holy ritual with his devotees. The feet of Lord Ganesha are then washed with water, filled with rose petals and then dried with soft towels. The lord is then offered cold water, with specially scented ingredients that is prepared following the rules of Ganesha pooja. The participants, including the priest, then drink the water from their palms to purify their soul. The next step is the most important one for the ritual. The lord is then bathed with specially prepared water. The water is purified with holy ghee, sugar, honey and many more things.
The lord is then offered special clothes. These can be of different types, depending on the beliefs of the devotees, but a bright orange coloured dhoti is common. The holy janoi is wrapped around Lord Ganesha’s shoulders, scented holy items are rubbed on his body and colourful, sweet scented flowers are offered to Lord Ganesha. Then the scented incense sticks are lit up to fill the entire place with an auspicious smell. Mud lamps filled with ghee are lit up and fruits and sweets are offered to the Ganesha idol. Paan, made with different ingredients, is then dripped in rose water and offered to Lord Ganesha. The Lord Ganesha prayer rituals end with the devotees presenting a coin to the priest.
The devotees then gather around the statue of Lord Ganesha and repeat the prayers the priest chants. These prayers are to be chanted together. After the prayers to Lord Ganesha are complete, the devotees eat the left over fruits and sweets of Lord Ganesha, which is known as prasad.
The Ganesha Aarti or the prayer of Lord Ganesha is the song or chant that is used for the auspicious rituals of Ganesha puja. Apart from the everyday prayers, there are many different kinds of pujas that are used by Hindu devotees to pray to lord Ganesha and seek his blessings. These prayers are offered to gain success, wisdom and wealth in life. The types of prayers used are dependent on the ritual and the type of the devotee of Lord Ganesha.
One of the most commonly used prayers for the aartisare ‘Jay Ganesha, Jay Ganesha, Jay Ganesha Deve…’.‘Ganapati Bappa Moriya…’ is also another common chant one that is generally used by a mass of devotees gathered together. All these prayers are used by millions of Hindu devotees of Lord Ganesha to assure that their wishes reach god they adore so much and he fulfils their dreams. These kinds of aarties can be found in ancient books which have been written by great minds of the past centuries.
The main use of Lord Ganesha aarti is seen in different Hindu shops. Lord Ganesha is the god of wealth and so many business and shop owners all over India use these aarties to pray to the god for the improvement of their business and good will of their shops. Most of the shop owners have statues of Lord Ganesha on their premises and they follow rituals of the aarties every evening to please Lord Ganesha so he may bless them with wealth and happiness. These are the main rituals that can be seen regularly apart form the ones in Lord Ganesha temples. In the temples, the aarti is performed both regularly and on special occasions.
The history behind Lord Ganesha aarties spans many centuries. Some of these aarties can be found in many old books written by priests of ancient times. Many mythological books of India have different kinds of aarties dedicated to Ganesha showing how these prayers have become an intricate part of Hindu culture. These ancient texts also prove that there have always been Lord Ganesha devotees around for centuries.
If you want to learn Lord Ganesha aarties then there are plenty of ways to do that. You can be part of the rituals by going to local Lord Ganesha temples or you can use the Internet to find the players and memorize them.