Ganpati Bappa Moriya!” announces Bangkok‘s most popular radio station. Ganesha — the most versatile of all gods possesses tremendous following in Thailand. He is omnipresent in the busiest business districts and popular in its most blasphemous streets. Be it elite fashion stores at Siam Square or lacy lingerie kiosks on Patpong streets, “His presence above cash counters is what keeps them jingling,” say shopkeepers. “Known as ‘Phra Phikanet /Phra Phikanesuan’, he is considered ‘Lord of business and diplomacy’. The Thai pray in Sanskrit, hundreds offer marigolds, coconuts, sugarcane and fruit juice to him,” says Assaya Suttikal, who sells fresh flowers and incense at Central World deity.
“Thailand is the only place in the world where there are more non-Hindu followers of an Indian God. The Shiva temple — Ramindra, Utthayan Ganesh temple — Nakhon Nayok and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at Thailand celebrate Ganesh Utsav with enthusiasm. Participation by locals gets bigger every year,” says Susheel Saraff, president of VHP, Thailand. Seven years ago, with permission from Thai government, VHP began celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi-visarjan in Bangkok. “Their only condition was that the deities should be eco-friendly. We import small idols from India and fly in artists from Pune to prepare bigger ones here. They bring material from India and are provided 45 days to sculpt and paint.”
According to the Thai calendar — September 1 to 8 —have been chosen for Nakhon Nayok celebrations. Some 106 km north of Bangkok, Nakhon Nayok has a 38 feet high idol. Decorated with Thai head gear and finery, it is an important place of worship. “We have arranged for five buses and 18 vans for vevotees. Prasad is homemade sweets, dried and fresh fruits, followed by lunch,” says Sanjay Kumar of VHP.
Inherent Secret in Making “Modakas”
Process of making “Modakas” has a deep significance. Grams are first soaked in water. Their shells are removed. Then they are ground into a fine powder. This powder is roasted in Ghee (Butter). Powdered Sugar is mixed. Then this mixture is given a round balls formation. As most of us know Lord Ganesh is very fond of Modakas. The process of making “Modakas” tells us that to endear oneself to a great Guru, the disciple has to pass through the process of penance, discipline and purification. Then he has to serve the master with sweetness and pleasure.
Ganesha and Aum (OM)
Look at the image on top-right. Lord Ganesh is both within form and beyond form. As “within form”, He is most commonly depicted as a strange composite of elephant and man, generally mounted on a mouse with four arms (see my previous blogs for their symbolic significance). However as “beyond form” He represents the Pranava ( OM orAUM) which is the symbol of the Supreme Self. If you view Lord Ganesha sideways as shown above, you will see the symbol “OM” in Sanskrit.
Curling to the left Ganesha’s trunk forms the shape of the syllable OM, symbolizing the origin of the Cosmos. Because Ganesha’s trunk forms the sacred syllable, He is believed to embody OM in its material form. That’s why Ganesh is called “Aumkara or OM-kar”, the origin of the universe and worshiped first by all Hindus regardless of their belief in God with form or without form.
To further reinforce my argument I present Adi Shankaracharya‘s hymn:
Whom the wise recognize
As the single syllable
Of Supreme Sound
Stainless and peerless
Formless and unconditioned
Dwelling in the core of
To You Primal One
I bow in wonder.”
The group show at State Art Gallery brings out the different forms of the God of Knowledge
It’s that time of the year again when the streets are dotted with pandals and loud music rents the air as the city wears a festive look. Also keeping with the spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi, State Art Gallery is organising an exhibition of paintings on Ganesha by a group of artists.
A collection of paintings by 26 artists, the exhibition showcases the different facets of Ganesha. With works by artists like Chandana Khan, Bala Bhakta Raju, Maredu Ramu, Vijay Kumar, Agachary, Sumanto Chowdhury, Shamsuddin, Bharat Bhushan. Srikanth Babu, Rajendra Kumar, Anand Shastry and others, on display, the exhibition brings to fore the varied styles with which each artist has visualised and rendered the deity.
From the colourful lively images of the elephant-god, the more deep and thoughtful postures to the more abstract forms of Ganesha, the exhibition has it all. The medium ranges from mixed media to acrylic on canvas. Rajendra Kumar’s painting of Ganesha for instance resembles a mosaic of different media, with great detailing.
On the other hand Anand Shastry’s painting depicts a man taking a giant Ganesha idol on his tractor through city streets ahead of the 11-day festival. Maredu Ramu’s painting of Ganesha uses soft brush strokes to render a more traditional image of the god.
The paintings are priced from Rs. 14,500 to Rs. 65,000 depending on the size. The exhibition, which was inaugurated on September 3 by Chandana Khan, chief secretary (tourism), is on till September 8 at the State Art Gallery from 10.30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hundreds of years ago Hindu missionaries went to different countries. They carried with them the idols of Ganesh who was their supreme deity. They spread their ideas about His form, power and the symbolic significance of His form. Merchants used to carry the idols of Ganesh to foreign countries so that their journey and trade may be free from obstacles. Perhaps, Ganesh came to be known to people of other lands for these reasons; Anyway, Ganesh is a popular God even in foreign countries.
Different Names in other cultures
Hinduism Today (http://www.hinduismtoday.com/) in its February 1989 issue wrote, “It is an incontrovertible fact that Lord Ganesh is real, not a mere symbol. He is a potent force in the universe, not a representation of potent universal forces. Of course, Ganesh belongs to all mankind, not to Hindus alone, though not all men on the planet call Him by our name, Ganesh. To the Chinese He is embodied in the form of a massive dragon, whose physical immensity depicts His incredible and irresistible force. To some Chinese He is Kuan-shi t’ienor Ho Tei, the large-bellied God of Happiness. To the Polynesians He is God Lono. The Tamilscall Him by the affectionate term Pillayar, Noble Child. The Tibetians know Him as ts’ ogs-bdag, and the Burmese worship Maha-Pienne. In Mongolia His name is Totkhar-our Khaghan.Cambodians offer worship to Prah Kenes, and the Japanese supplicate Vinayaksa or Sho-ten. By some He is envisioned as the feminine Mother Nature, and even non-believers seek to understand Him through personifying His great powers as Fate, Destiny or Numen. TheGreeks called Him Janus and sought His blessings at the outset of any new venture. In theWest He is revered as the corpulent Santa Claus, the giver of boons and gifts. The Buddhists and Jains also honor Ganesha. In one form or another, Lord Ganesha is honored throughout the world.”
Popularity in the Corporate World
Pramod Batra (www.lifepositive.com October, 1997) says, “As a student of management, I was fascinated enough by Ganesha to research the subject. Clearly, there is much we could learn to become more effective managers. Management is always the major chunk of the problem on the job; in business and at home. Lord Ganesha’s big head inspires us to think big and think profitably; the big ears show openness to new ideas and suggestions; the narrow eyes point to the deep concentration needed to finish a task well; the long nose encourages curiosity and learning. I have found inspiration in Ganesha’s wisdom and judgment, His ability to solve problems and remove obstacles, His capability as a communicator, His goal-orientation and His adaptability. These qualities were much needed by our forefathers as they advanced from hunters to agriculturists. More than strength, they needed wisdom and judgment to survive. These qualities are no less at a premium today, especially for managers.
A Ganesh manager likes people, all kinds of people with their diverse skills and aptitudes, and he likes to work. He enjoys bettering his records. He is forward-looking, with clear and friendly eyes. He likes to set goals and solve problems, and because he is stimulated by this challenge, he becomes better and better at it. He likes to help others realize their goals. He nurtures his own understanding and discrimination by reflecting on his own and others’ experience. He always operates at 150 per cent of capacity; he knows that’s what keeps him happy and growing.“
What do we really know about Ganesha? That we ought to chant his name prior to any important work or prayer, he is bestowed with a head of an elephant, and is often portrayed with having a large belly and not a taut mid riff like other Gods.
But the fact is that these unique body parts describe Ganesha`s character and the qualities that humans should adopt for spiritual growth.
An elephant has the ability to uproot strong trees and even pick a fine blade of grass. Therefore, Ganesha`s trunk symbolizes that a wise being has the ability to be strong as well as skilled to identify good from bad much like the white swan which can segregate milk from water.
His large ears mean that he listens to the prayers of every single person devoted to him. His four hands too have an amazing meaning attached to them. His lotus bearing hand symbolises enlightenment.
Another hand that holds a hatchet symbolises that enlightenment cuts off all bonds of attachment with the material world.
The third hand carries sweetmeats which imply the sweet gains reaped by practicing good deeds. As Bhagwadgita makes it clear that a person should always focus on the karma and not the fruits of it, Ganesha is never shown enjoying the dessert he holds in his hands, thereby making it clear that he is not attached to the outcome of his good deeds.
His fourth hand is seen in an `Aashirwad Mudra` or the blessing pose. This means that an ideal person always wishes for societal well-being. Ganesha is also depicted with his one foot down on ground and the other one resting on his knee. This symbolizes that the enlightened person lives on earth without any attachment to material life.
The reason why Ganesha rides the back of a rat is because rat stands for greed and the mind of a wise being should control his senses rather than getting controlled by them. An ideal person should master his senses to enjoy a wholesome existence is the message Ganesha gives.
There are numerous names given to Ganesh according to different attributes attached to the symbolic representation of a “perfect being”. Ganesh or Ganapati means the Lord of the multitudes. “Vighneshwara” means the God who removes all obstacles and `Vinayaka’ means the supreme leader. Ganesh is also a symbolic representation of a man of perfection.
Various Ganesh symbols, when put together, have many times been made a target of criticism by those who are ignorant of the meaning behind the “odd mixture” of human and animal parts in a divine form. The worship of Ganesh does not mean the worship of an idol but a constant reminder of the value to be inculcated in the worshiper if he/she wants to attain the state of perfection. This may shock ignorant people, but the elephant-headed Lord of auspiciousness represents some of the highest and best ideas in our scriptures. Let me go through two of Ganesha symbols today.
Ganesha’s endearing potbelly is equated with space; it is vast enough to hold all wisdom and all life. Gentle and harmless, he uses his great strength only when provoked. Ganesh, a man of perfection must have the capacity to stomach peacefully all the experiences of life-pleasant or unpleasant. Such a man is always depicted in every culture as a jovial man with Big Belly like Santa Clause and Happy Buddha (see picture above).
The elephant head of Lord Ganesh is the over-seeing, all-seeing, eternal witness, the unmanifest supreme. Ganesha is the lord of all, manifest and unmanifest. The memory of an elephant is, of course, proverbial. A leader must possess wide understanding. He should have a discriminating intellect. Both quantitatively and qualitatively an elephant’s head was found to represent this aspect. The elephant ears are like winnows that separate the wheat from the chaff. All experience must be subjected to scrutiny to determine what is essential and what is nonessential. This is a critical aspect of judgment. The discerning and the wise do what they must and let the rest be.
The elephant trunk has a peculiar efficiency. Here is a tool strong enough to uproot a tree yet delicate enough to pick up a pin from the ground. This range of adaptability is not known to any single man made instrument. This perfect discriminating adaptability in a perfect man can be used in the outer world for solving problems.
Elephant Tusks: Discrimination implies a choice, say, between wisdom and folly, good and evil, right and wrong. This choice is expressed in two tusks. The broken tusk symbolizes the man of discrimination, whose choice in the field of action is always the right one. It is well known that left side (the side of our hearts) is emotion dominated and right side is intellect dominated, In the picture above, we find that the broken tusk is the left one. This symbolizes the dominance of rationale over emotions.
As I mentioned in my previous blog Krishna and Ganesh connection on the occasion of upcoming Ganesh (Vinayaka) Chturthi on September 8/9, I intend to write several blogs on my Ishta Dev Lord Ganesha. This is the second blog of the series.
Many believe that Ganesha’s popularity skyrocketed on September 21, 1995, when milk offered to a statue of Ganesha in a temple on the outskirts of New Delhi, just disappeared into thin air. Within hours, news spread like a bushfire across India and the world that Ganesha was accepting milk offerings. Tens of millions of people of all ages flocked to the temples. This “milk miracle” may go down in history as the most important event regarding idol-worship this century, if not in the last millennium. It had brought about an instantaneous religious revival among nearly one billion people who believe in Idol worshiping. No other religion had ever done that before.
The worldwide press coverage was nearly as amazing as the miracle itself. Of course, the event dominated the news in India for days. But once it started outside India, local and leading national papers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post in America, and the Financial Times in UK, picked up the story. The Manchester Guardian noted, “The media coverage was extensive, and although scientists and “experts” created theories of “capillary absorption” and “mass hysteria” the overwhelming evidence and conclusion was that an unexplainable miracle had occurred… While the media and scientists still struggle to find an explanation for these events, many believe they are a sign that a great teacher has been born.”
Many in India were unaware of how warmly the Western press including the press in Canada where I live, embraced the miracle. In Canada reporters came to the temples and personally offered milk.
Indore: The premises of Khajrana temple would be extended by three times of its present area while a plan has been prepared for various development works on this increased area. Khajrana Ganesh temple administrator and MPAKVN Indore MD Manish Singh said at present the area of the temple is 4- acre.
When the officials recently observed the Government records, they noticed that there is another land nearby registered for Shri Ram temple. When the tehsil office measured the dimensions of this land, it was found to be of 9 acres.
After the inclusion of this land with, the total area of the Ganesh temple would be 13 acre. Apart from this, a nearby slum and encroached land would also be cleared of encroachers after measurement, thus 2 acre more would be available for the temple. Finally, the temple would have 15 acres of land for its premises. The boundary- wall construction task is going on at present.
/ Change to be noticeable by Ganesh Chaturthi The ongoing change would be noticeable to visitors of Ganesh temple during the 10- day Ganesh Chaturthi Festival. Broken tiles are being replaced with new ones from the main gate to the main temple. Also, wells around the temple are being enclosed with grills, so that nobody can throw litter in it.
/ 5 kg silver received Devotees are contacting officers for contributing to the development of Ganesh Mandir. On Tuesday, 5 kg silver was received as offering to Lord Ganesha from an unknown donor. This silver is being added to the idol of Ganesha. The rear portion was filled with silver, on Tuesday, while front portion was in process. Also, two mice have been made with silver on the sides of the presiding deity.
Corporator Sunil Patidar has arranged a fountain for the temple while talks are in process for the gate with a company. Sanitation work has been outsourced at Rs 1 lakh per month. The contractor would be penalised if litter is found in the temple. Dustbins are being placed while shopkeepers are also being asked to keep separate dustbins.
Money counting for 3 days
Donation boxes at Khajrana temple were scheduled to be opened on Thursday. The counting process would continue for three days and then the money would be deposited in the State Bank of India. More donation boxes are being placed inside the temple premises. The admn expects more visitors during Ganesh Chaturthi festival that begins on September 9. High- masts have been installed at the temple while old electric fitting has been replaced.
Ganesh Chaturthi or the Vinayaka Chaturthi is less than a week away. It is the time to celebrate the most lovable Hindu deity, Ganesha’s birthday! Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important Hindu festival widely celebrated with vigour in the state of Maharashtra. The festival lasts for nine days and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm and of course with some mouthwatering delicacies.
Amti in Marathi means spicy dal and bhat means rice. This delicious dal is prepared with a special blend of spices known as the goda masala. It is the most important ingredient used to prepare this dal recipe. Since this spicy dal recipe is served with steamed rice, it is named amti bhaat. It goes without mention that the flavour of this dal is simply hard to resist. Maharashtrian amti bhaat is a perfect recipe to try out on this Ganesh Chaturthi, and have a delightful vegetarian treat at your home.
So, check out this delicious Ganesh Chaturthi recipe of Maharashtrian Amti Bhaat.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- Toor dal- 1 cup
- Methi (fenugreek) seeds- ½ tbsp
- Mustard seeds- 1tsp
- Hing (asafoetida)- a pinch
- Turmeric powder- 1tsp Salt- as per taste
- Curry leaves- 4-5 Gur (jaggery)- 1tbsp
- Tamarind pulp- 2tsp Goda masala- 2tsp
- Coriander leaves- 2tbsp (chopped)
- Oil- 1tbsp Water- 2 cups
For Goda Masala
- Coriander seeds- 1tbsp
- Cumin seeds- ½ tbsp
- White sesame seeds- 1tbsp
- Cloves- 5-6
- Black cardamom- 2
- Cinnamon sticks- 2
- Black peppercorns- 8-10
- Bay leaves- 2 Oil- ½ tsp
- Heat oil in a pan and roast all the ingredients listed under goda masala for about 2 minutes on a medium flame.
- Switch off the flame and let it cool.
- Then grind it in a mixer and make a coarse powder.
- Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker with salt and water.
- Pressure cook for 3 whistles and then switch off the flame.
- Heat oil in a pan, add methi, mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cooked dal and mix well. Now add the jaggery and the tamarind pulp to it.
- Keep stirring. Add two teaspoons of the prepared goda masala and cook on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes.
- Once done, garnish the dal with chopped coriander leaves. Maharashtrian Amti is ready to be served.
- Serve this delicious dal recipe with steamed rice.
The Ganpati festival has begun with zeal across the world.
If you have installed a Ganesh at your home or install a sarvajanik ganpati, we would love to showcase them. You could send us photographs with a brief description, name and location.
We will showcase them in our daily photo feature on the festival.
Please mail your photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org