Ganesha Chaturthi is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesh, the son of Shiva and Parvati, who is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival.It is celebrated in all over india, also celebrated in other countries like Nepal,USA,Canada by Hindus.
Lord Ganesha also called by several names,i.e Gajanan, Ganapati, Vakratunda, Mahakay, Ekadant, Vinayak,Modakpriy,Lombodar,Gouriputra,Shankaratanay,Vighneshwar etc. These names have different meanings.There is belief that Lord Ganesh had main role to prevent Ravana from getting a weapon as powerful as the atmalinga, in the disguise of a Brahmin boy, tells Ravana that he will hold the atmalinga until Ravana finishes his prayers. As soon as he receives the atmalinga, Ganesh promptly puts it down. Ravana tries to extricate it, resulting in throwing the coverings of the Linga to Surathkal, Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwar, Murudeshwar, and Shejjeshwar temples.
The festival falls in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between August and September months. The festival lasts for 10-12days.It ends on Anant Chaturdashi.
According to Historical records Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by the great Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja. It had continued since. The similar celebrations were in Peshwa times, where Lord Ganesh was family deity of the Peshwas. The Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak transformed the domestic festival into large,well-organized public event. He popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order to build unity between Brahmins and ‘non-Brahmins’ which generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings.
The festival starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and mandapas. Statues are made of clay and later painted byÂ various colors. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 25 feet. Mandapas are decorated by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of Kumkum & Sandalwood paste. Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted while doing worship.Jaggery, Coconut 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. Modak and karanjiÂ are main sweet dishes Â during this festival which made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Both are similar in test but different in shapes.
Ganesha is worshipped for 10 days i.e from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi. On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, and fanfare to be immersed in a river or the sea.People are shouting “Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya”(O lord Ganesha, come again early next year) in the procession.
Perhaps the most popular story regarding Ganesha’s origin is the one derived from the Shiva Purana. Mother Parvati once wanted to take a bath and created a boy from the dirt of Her own body, asking him to stand as a guard outside while She bathed. In the meantime Lord Shiva returned home to find a stranger at His door, preventing Him from entering. In anger, Shiva cut off the boy’s head, upon which Parvati was stricken with great grief. In order to console Her, Shiva sent out His troops (gaNa) to fetch the head of anyone found sleeping with his head pointing to the north. They found an elephant sleeping thus and brought back its head. Shiva then attached the elephantine head to the body of the boy and revived him. He named the boy Ganapati or commander of His troops, and granted Him a boon that anyone would have to worship Him (Ganesha) before beginning any undertaking.
The Brahma vaivarta Purana narrates a different story regarding the origin of Ganapati. Shiva instructed Parvati, who wanted to have a son, to observe the puNyaka vrata for a year to propitiate Vishnu.
harer ArAdhanaM kR^itvA vrataM kuru varAngane |
vrataM cha puNyakam nAma varshhamekaM karishhyasi ||
O Beautiful Goddess! Perform the worship of Hari by observing the punyaka vrata for a year.
vratasyAsya prabhAveNa svayaM gopAnganeshvaraH |
IshvaraH sarvabhUtAnAM tava putro bhavishhyati ||
The Lord of Gopikas, the Lord of all beings, Krishna Himself will be born as your son, as a result of the vrata.
On completion of the vrata by Parvati, it was announced that Krishna would incarnate Himself as Her son in every kalpa. Accordingly, Krishna was born as a charming infant, delighting Parvati who celebrated the event with great enthusiasm. All the Gods arrived to have a look at the baby. But Shani, the son of Surya, did not look at him and stared at the ground instead. Upon Parvati’s questioning regarding his behavior, Shani said that his look would harm the baby. Parvati, however, insisted that he should look at the baby. In deference to Her wish Shani cast his eyes on the baby. Due to his malevolent glance, the baby’s head was severed and flew to Goloka, the abode of Krishna. Parvati and all the Gods assembled there, including Shiva, were grief-stricken. Thereupon, Vishnu mounted Garuda and rushed to the banks of the Pushpa-bhadra river and brought back the head of a young elephant. The head of the elephant was joined with the headless body of Parvati’s son, reviving him. All the Gods blessed Ganesha and wished Him power and prosperity.
Vishnu blessed Ganesha thus:
sarvAgre tava pUjA cha mayA dattA surottama |
sarvapUjyagashcha yogIndro bhava vatsetyuvAcha taM ||
O Excellent God! O dear one! May Your pUjA be performed before that of any other God. May You be situated in all venerable beings and may You be the best among Yogis. This is My boon to You.
Shiva made Ganesha the leader of his troops (gaNa), and also gave Him the following boon.
gaNeshapUjane vighnaM nirmUlaM jagatAM bhavet.h |
nirvyAdhiH sUryapUjAyAM shuciH shrIvishhNupUjane ||
All obstacles, whatever they may be, will be rooted out by worshipping Ganesha, even as diseases are cured by the worship of Surya and purity results when Vishnu is worshiped.
His missing tusk
Ganesha was a glutton. One evening, having stuffed himself to capacity, he decided to take a post-prandial ride on his favored mount, Mooshika, a rat or shrew. Along the moonlit road they chanced upon a large snake and the startled rat bolted, throwing the gross Ganesha.
Ganesha fell heavily; he hit the ground so hard that his stomach burst open. Gathering up the remains of his self-esteem, his ample guts and the snake, Ganesha wittily used the reptile as a belt and tied himself up together again.
Howls of derision shattered the peaceful scene; it was the moon who had witnessed the whole incident with great relish. Ganesha lost his temper and angrily looked about for something to throw at his tormentor. Finding nothing suitable, he ripped off one of his own tusks and hurled it at the moon. He added a vindictive curse that every so often the moon would lose its power of giving light.
Another explanation of his missing tusk is that he plucked it out in his enthusiasm to write down the Mahabharata, the Hindu religious epic, at the dictation of sage Vyasa. He was after all the Hindu god of learning and the patron of letters. Would that all in the literary world were as kind, gentle and well-meaning as Ganesha.
It is said that anyone who looks at the moon on the night of the Ganesh Chaturthi will be falsely charged with theft or a similar crime. If someone inadvertently sees the moon on this night, he/she may remedy the situation by listening to (or reciting) the story of the syamantaka jewel. This story may be found in the Puranas such as the Bhagavata and the Vishnu. Briefly, Satrajit, who secured a jewel syamantaka from Surya, did not part with it even when Krishna the Lord of Dvaraka, asked for it saying it would be safe with Him. Prasena, the brother of Satrajit went out hunting wearing the jewel but was killed by a lion. Jambavan of Ramayana fame killed the lion and gave it to his son to play with. When Prasena did not return, Satrajit falsely accused Krishna of killing Prasena for the sake of the jewel. Krishna, in order to remove the stain on His reputation, set out in search of the jewel and found it in Jambavan’s cave, with his child. Jambavan attacked Krishna thinking Him to be an intruder who had come to take away the jewel. They fought each other for 28 days, when Jambavan, his whole body terribly weakened from the hammering of Krishna’s fists, finally recognized Him as Rama.
jAne tvAM sarvabhUtAnAM prANa ojah saho balaM |
vishhNuM purANapurushhaM prabhavishhNumadhIshvaraM ||
I now know You. You are the life in all creatures, virility, grit and strength. You are Vishnu, the Primeval Lord, All-prevailing, the Supreme Lord (of the worlds). (Bhagavata 10.56.26) and,
setuH kR^itaH svayasha ujjvalitA cha lankA rakshhaH shirAMsi bhuvi peturishhukshhatAni ||
He Who built a bridge (across the ocean) that is a standing monument to His fame, set Lanka ablaze, and with His arrows severed the heads of Rakshasas, which fell to the ground.
As repentance for his having fought Krishna, Jambavan gave Krishna the jewel and also his daughter Jambavati in marriage. Krishna returned to Dvaraka with Jambavati and the jewel, and returned it Satrajit, who in turn repented for his false accusation. He promptly offered to give Krishna the jewel and his daughter Satyabhama in marriage. Krishna accepted Satyabhama as His wife but did not accept the jewel.
In the event that one is not even able to listen to or read the story, the following mantra may be recited holding some water in the palm of the right hand. The water is then to be sipped.
siMhaH prasenamavadhIt.h siMho jAmbavatA hataH |
sukumAraka mA rodIH tava hyeshha syamantakaH ||
A lion killed Prasena; the lion was killed by Jambavan. Don’t cry, O dear child! This syamantaka jewel is yours.
Use parisara ganapati for puja.
Rituals and their significance
Before commencing the ritualistic worship, rice (grain) is spread over the seat on which the idol is to be installed. Either a fistful or a mound of rice is used, depending on the local custom. On invocation of Ganapati and His ritualistic worship, energy is generated in the idol. This energy saturates the rice on which the idol is placed. If there are two strings of a musical instrument (a stringed musical instrument) of the same frequency, when sound is generated by one the same is generated by the other. Similarly, when frequencies of energy are generated in the rice below the idol, this energy is transmitted to the rice stored in the house. Thus one can eat rice saturated with energy as a sacrament of food (prasad) throughout the year.
When performing each of the following rituals a particular mantra is recited.
[Detailed information on ritualistic worship is given in 'Science of Spirituality: Chapter 7 - Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga)'. The actual ritualistic worship is based on 'Shri Ganesh Pujavidhan' compiled by Mr. S. K. Devdhar.]
|Sipping water from the palm (achaman): This brings about internal purification.
|The resolve (sankalpa): It may be difficult to obtain the benefit of a ritual without making a resolve.
|Purification of the seat (asanshuddhi): This is brought about by touching one’s seat and offering obeisance (namaskar).
|Chanting the Purushsukta (Purushsukta nyas): Amidst chanting of the Purushsukta, the deity should be invoked in one’s heart, head, small portion of hair on the head (shikha), face, eyes and between the eyebrows. This facilitates an increase in the sattvik (sattva predominant) temperament.
|Worship of the pot (kalashpuja): All deities, seas, holy rivers, etc., should be invoked in the pot. Sandalwood paste (gandha), consecrated rice (akshata) and flowers should be offered to the pot. This sattvik water is then used in the ritualistic worship.
|Worship of the conch (shankhapuja): The conch should be washed and filled with water. Then sandalwood paste and white flowers should be offered to it. One should not offer consecrated rice and tulsi leaves to it.
|Worship of the bell (ghantapuja): One should create sound by ringing the bell to welcome the deities and drive off the demons (asurs). The bell should be placed to one’s left and sandalwood paste, consecrated rice and flowers should be offered to it.
|Worship of the lamp (dipapuja): Sandalwood paste and flowers are offered to the lamp.
|Purification (pavitrikaran): The water from the conch should be poured onto one’s right palm and then sprinkled over oneself and on the substances to be used in the ritualistic worship.
|Worship of the entrance (dvarpuja): Flowers and consecrated rice should be scattered in all four directions. This itself is the worship of the guardian deities of the directions (dikpal).
Consecration of the idol (pranpratistha): One should place the right hand over the heart of the idol of the deity and chant a mantra. Consecration of an idol is done at Ganesh chaturthi or to activate any new idol. This is not included in the usual ritualistic worship, as due to the regular worship the God principle has already been attained by it.
|Meditation (dhyan): One should chant ‘Vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha Nirvighnam kurume deva sarva Karyeshu Sarvada
|Invocation (avadhan): Uttering ‘Om sahastrashirsha Purushaha” one should offer consecrated rice. The resolve is the same as is made when giving an invitation for a thread ceremony, wedding, etc.
|The seat (asan): Consecrated rice is offered to the seat.
|The feet (padya): One should sprinkle water on the idol’s feet either with flowers or durva. This symbolizes washing the deity’s feet.
|Offering water (arghya): One should take an offering of spoonful (pali) of water, mix sandalwood paste (gandha) in it and sprinkle that water onto Ganapati’s body using a flower. This is akin to welcoming guests by sprinkling rose water.
|Sipping water from the palm (achaman): Imagining that the deity is sipping water from its palm, one should offer water with the offering spoon to the deity, thrice.
|Ablution for cleansing of the body (malapakarshsnan): One should bathe the deity using the offering spoon.
|Bathing with the five nectars (panchamrutsnan): First bathe the idol with a mixture of milk, honey, curd, clarified butter (ghee) and sugar that is panchamrut. Then bathe it with a spoonful of water. One should offer water as if God is sipping water (achman), thrice and finally offer sandalwood paste, consecrated rice and flowers.
Ritualistic worship before the main worship (purvapuja): After worship with sandalwood paste, consecrated rice (akshata), flowers (red flowers for Ganapati), frankincense and a lit lamp, the remaining panchamrut should be used as an offering (naivedya). To make this offering, a mandal (a circle) should be made by sprinkling water in front of the idol. The panchamrut should then be placed on it. (The mandal prevents energies other than those of deities from manifesting there to partake of the offering.) Beginning on the left, using a flower or a tulsi leaf one should sprinkle water around the vessel containing the panchamrut. Then closing the eyes and directing the odour of the offering with the fingers towards the deity one should chant the mantra related to the five vital energies ‘Om pranaya svaha, Om apanaya svaha, Om vyanaya svaha, Om udanaya svaha, Om samanaya svaha, Om Brahmane svaha twice. This means I offer to you O pran, apan, vyan, udan, saman and Brahman. Both the times one should conclude the mantra by sprinkling water around the vessel. Then uttering ‘Neivedyamadhyepaniyam Samparyami’, meaning ‘I offer this at Your feet’, a little water should be sprinkled on the offering. This further enhances the sattva component in the offering. Thereafter, to signify the washing of the hands and mouth, water should be poured over the hand into a circular, shelving metal dish (tamhan), thrice. A flower dipped in sandalwood paste should be offered to Ganapati. Betel leaves should be placed in front of the deity and water should be poured over them. One should offer flowers and obeisance and then release water into the circular, shelving metal dish.
|Consecration by sprinkling with water (abhishek): After ritualistic worship and before the main worship, consecration by sprinkling with water, according to the Atharvashirisha or Brahmanspatisukta is done. Water is sprinkled on the idol either with a blade of sacred grass (durva) or a red flower.
|Offering cloth (vastrarpan) : Two red cloths should be offered.
|Offering the sacred thread (yadnyopavit): The sacred thread should be offered.
|Smearing with sandalwood paste (vilepan): With the ring (fourth) finger one should apply sandalwood paste.
|Offering consecrated rice (akshatarpan) : Consecrated rice should be offered.
|Offering saffron coloured powder (sindurarpan): A saffron coloured powder (sindur) should be offered.
|Various fragrant substances (anya parimaldravya) : Turmeric, vermilion (kumkum), red coloured powder (gulal), a powder containing fragrant substances (bukka), asthagandha, etc., are offered.
|Offering flowers (pushparpan) : Red flowers should be offered. Offering tulsi to Ganapati is prohibited because Ganapati mostly favours devotion with expectation (sakam bhakti) while tulsi denotes detachment (vairagya). Thus devotees of Ganapati would not even grow tulsi plants in their compound unlike most Hindus.
|Ritualistic worship of the entire body (angapuja) : Either consecrated rice or flowers should be offered to every part of Ganapati’s body, from the feet to the head while performing His ritualistic worship.
|Ritualistic worship with other Names (namapuja) : While chanting each Name, the durva should be dipped in red vermilion paste and offered one by one.
|Worship with leaves (patrapuja) : With each offering of a leaf of a different kind a specific Name should be chanted.
|Worship with flowers (pushpapuja) : Flowers of different kinds with their stalks facing the deity, should be offered while chanting a specific Name with each type of flower.
|Worship with frankincense (dhupadarshan) : Frankincense and incense should be moved in a circular fashion in front of the idol.
|Worship with a lit lamp (dipadarshan) : A lit metal lamp (niranjan) should be moved in a circular fashion.
|Offering food (naivedya) : It should be offered in the same way as described in ritualistic worship before the main worship (purvapuja).
|Offering betel leaves along with betelnut, lime, cardamoms, etc., (tambul) : After placing betel leaves in front of the deity, water should be poured over them.
|Offering money (dakshina) : The offering should be placed on betel leaves and water should be poured over it.
|Offering fruit (phalasamarpan) : A coconut should be placed with its tip pointing towards the deity and water should be poured onto it. If a coconut is not available then seasonal fruits should be used. [The energy from the deity enters the pointed tip of the coconut, which is later consumed by devotees as a sacrament (prasad). Thus, they receive that energy.]
|Prayer (prarthana): Chanting the mantra ‘Avahanam na janami…. one should pour water over the palm and release it into the circular, shelving metal dish (tamhan).
|Partaking of holy water (tirthaprashan) : Chanting the mantra ‘Akalmrutyuharanam….one should partake of the holy water.
|Moving lit lamps (arti): Amidst singing, lit lamps should be moved in a circular fashion.
|Prayer (prarthana): ‘Surrendering at your feet ….’ should be recited.
|Offering flowers in the form of a mantra (mantrapushpanjali): This offering is made in the form of a mantra ‘Om yadnyena yadnyamayajantam’.
|Obeisance offered by the devotees (darshanarthincha namaskar): Those present for arti and mantrapushpanjali as well as those who come to pay obeisance throughout the day, should offer flowers and a sacred grass (durva) to Ganapati and prostrate before Him. The members of the family where the idol is being worshipped should offer them a sacrament of food.
Intermediate ritualistic worship (madhyapujavidhi)
As long as the idol of Ganapati is in the house, it should be ritualistically worshipped as usual, in the morning and evening. The worship should be concluded with singing of artis and offering flowers reciting a mantra.
The concluding ritualistic worship (uttarpuja)
After the concluding ritualistic worship, the idol is immersed in flowing water. When taking Ganapati for immersion one should also give curd, puffed rice, coconut, modak, etc., as provision for the journey. Beside the banks of the flowing water where the idol is to be immersed, one should perform aarti once again and then release the idol along with the provisions into the water. After immersion it is customary to bring home the earth from that place and to sprinkle it all over the house.
‘An important point regarding immersion of Ganesh is that the divinity induced in the mud idol by consecration cannot remain in it beyond one day. This means that no matter when the Ganesh idol is immersed, on the second day divinity from it is already lost. Hence after performing the ritualistic worship of the idol of any deity immersing it that very day is most appropriate in all aspects. Even if one observing seclusion due to birth (soyar) or death (sutak) in the family a priest should be made to perform the vowed religious observance of Ganesh (Ganeshvrat). Similarly immersion on the decided day without waiting for an event such as a delivery, etc., in the family is correct according to the scriptures.
Science behind some special substances used in the worship
One of the objectives of ritualistic worship is to charge the idol being worshipped with divine consciousness (chaitanya) so that it helps one in making spiritual progress. In order to generate that divine consciousness, the substance, which is offered to that idol, has more ability to attract the most subtle pure particles (pavitrakas) of that deity, from as far as the maha region in comparision to other substances.
Durva:A sacred grass called durva has special importance in the ritualistic worship of Ganapati.
|Shami leaves: The shami tree is the habitat of Agni (the deity of fire). To retain their radiance the Pandavas had kept their weapons in a hollow of this tree. The fire created by friction is done with sticks of the shami tree.
|Coral (mandar) leaves: There is a difference between the two trees milkweed (rui) and coral. The fruits of the milkweed are colored while those of the coral are white. Just as mercury is a chemical among medicines, so also is the coral among trees.
|Red substances: Ganapati’s complexion is red. Red cloth, flowers and red sandalwood (raktachandan) are used in His worship. Due to the red color of these substances, pure particles (pavitrakas) of Ganapati in the atmosphere get attracted to the idol in greater quantities and help its activation. Since it is difficult to understand this, one is simply told that Ganapati loves red cloth, red flowers and red sandalwood (raktachandan).