One of the most recognizable of Hindu Gods, the elephant-headed, pot-bellied statue of Ganesha can be found in most Hindu temples. Lord Ganesha is primarily known as the God of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. But he is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth.
As with all gods, each feature of Lord Ganesha symbolises something. His most obvious feature, the elephant head, symbolises wisdom. The right tusk is broken off and held in his right hand. This was used to help him to write the Mahabharata, and thus symbolises sacrifice. In the statue, Ganesha is seen stepping on a mouse (only partly visible in the photo). He is actually riding on it, and it shows that he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures.
The story of how Ganesha got his elephant head is an interesting one.
“Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy’s head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops.”
Neha Madaan, TNN Sep 9
Pune: In Mauritius, the elephant God is welcomed with dhol-tasha and Konkani dance form ‘jhakris’. In the US, Ganeshotsav brings people together, after the hallowed idol is installed at various public places, housing complexes, and individual homes. Every Ganeshotsav, sea of devotees abroad bring home the elephant God with the same fervour as we do.
Rohan Ambre, a masters’ student of electrical engineering in the Cleveland State University, said, “The long weekend in the US proved to be a blessing as we had people drive down to celebrate the festival with us. With limited resources at our disposal, we try to keep it as simple as possible, which is why we do not have any themes for our decoration in particular. This Ganeshotsav, our aim was to bring together not only the Indian community, but also every devotee of the Lord.”
Ambre said he and his friends tried to bring in new students who recently began their master’s or PhD courses in August, so that they did not miss the festivities back home. “On a personal note, my connection with the festival has been quite deep. My father was associated with the Chinchpokli Ganeshotsav Mandal in Mumbai during his teen, which is why celebrating the festival entices me,” he said.
The ‘pran pratishtha’ of the idol is done with the available resources. “We have a students’ organisation called the Hindu YUVA (Youth for Unity, Virtues and Action) at the university willing to contribute towards the expenses this year. We celebrate the festival for seven days, during which we invite everyone for the ‘aarti’ and recite the ‘atharvasheersha’. The ‘prasad’ is usually made at home, which includes Kheer, Gulab jamun and Modaks,” he said.
According to Priya Mulloo, a working professional, Ganeshotsav is being celebrated in Mauritius since 1982. “Here, the festival is either celebrated in local, regional temples or individual homes. The temple celebration, however, is much preferred. The idols are made of mud and are available at specific places. On the eve, devotees visit temples, perform traditional dance and offer ‘aarti’. On the day of the immersion, we gather at the beach or a lake,” said Mulloo.
This application helps Lord Ganesha devotees to worship while they are on move. Following are salient features:
- Ganesha Mantra.
- Mantra can be set as morning alarm.
- Temple bell sound when devotees touches bell.
- Shankanaad on touching Shankha.
- God can be put as widget. Widget image changes automatically at every 30 min.
- Three different sizes of widget supported
By By Devdutt Pattanaik
Where Ganesha, the Elephant God is, there has got to be a story; not one but many. Wherever there is Ganesha, there have to be symbols, temples, rituals, lots of sweets to eat, and last if not the least, lots of mischief. That’s what Devdutt Pattanaik, who writes on myth and mythology, brings alive to us in his latest book, 99 Thoughts on Ganesha.
He’s started with a puzzle about Ganesha’s existence you may not have known about. ‘The image of Ganesha, his rituals and his stories are a kind of mythological puzzle created by our ancestors,’ writes Pattanaik. ‘Through him, they are trying to communicate a profound truth – so the answers are right there in front of us in the form of Ganesha, if we are willing to decode it. If we don’t want to decode, it’s perfectly alright; the image of Ganesha will continue to enrich us.’
And so it does; with the story of his creation. Ganesha was created by Shakti when, ‘she anointed herself with turmeric and oil. When the mixture had soaked her sweat and dried on her skin, she scraped it off and from the rubbings created a child, her son.’ While this story might be well known to Ganesha’s followers, what may not be so well-known is that Vinayaka comes from the words, Vina (without) and Nayaka (the help of a man).What may also not be common knowledge is that ‘Durga, Ganesha’s mother, took a banana plant, wrapped a sari around it and gave it in marriage to Ganesha, because no woman in the world wanted to marry him because of his elephant head!’ It is these interesting facts, detailed in an easy manner, with a contemporary slant that make you want to read on. By now we are into the part called ‘stories’.
One day,the Moon laughed when he saw Ganesha riding on a rat. He found the idea of an elephant-headed, fat god riding a tiny rodent rather amusing. Ganesha didn’t appreciate the Moon god’s laughter and so declared that anyone who looked at the Moon on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada, which is sacred to Ganesha, will suffer bad luck. That is why no one looks at the Moon god on Ganesha Chaturthi! It’s a nugget of information nicely told; just like the tale on the spiritual symbolism of the modaka, the steamed dumpling made of rice flour dough, jaggery and sesame, that follows in the part called Symbols.
‘The modaka is also shaped like an upward pointing triangle, which, in Tantrik art, represents spiritual reality, in contrast to the downward pointing triangle which represents material reality.’ There is more – on the history and wisdom of Ganesh. Sensibly, Pattanaik has kept all the chapters short; no chapter is more than a page long, and has presented all this information – which could otherwise be terribly boring – in a very readable manner. In 99 Thoughts on Ganesha, Pattanaik has developed the retelling of mythology into an art, and it shows.
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Price: Rs 195
Source: Times of India
Bhagyodaya Raj Prasad, a divine royal palace, will be the attraction at the Ganapati festival presented by Shrimant Dagadusheth Halwai Sarvajanik Ganapati Trust.
Brainchild of former president of the trust Tatyasaheb Godse, the huge decorative structure of 100 feet length, 50 feet width and 95 feet height, would be carved entirely in fibre glass.
Creator-sculptor Vivek Khatavkar said, “It has 350 columns, 250 arches, 90 vents, lamps, colourful curtains and prisms.” A special Mayurasan for the Ganapati idol, carved in fibre glass would be another distinct feature. A Vaibhav Rath having 12 columns and 18 arches, has been prepared for the immersion procession.
Khatavkar along with artists Ananta Pilvalkar and Sandeep Wadkar are the architects.
Announcing the rituals during the festive period, Trust’s General Secretary Ashok Godse said, “Yogacharya B K S Iyengar will consecrate the Shree Ganesha idol (pran-pratistha).”
On the day of Rishipanchami (a day of vrata observed by women), Commissioner of Police Meeran Borvankar is expected to present, he added.
Scores of Lord Ganesha idols are lined together at every corner of the room, of variant sizes, shapes, colours and forms. It is not a shop selling Ganesha idols but a personal collection of Pabsetti Shekhar, a bank employee who has been collecting the Vinayaka idols for the past 38 years. Today, he boasts a collection of 11,160 or rather as he takes out three more idols from his bag, 11,163 idols and 14,152 photographs.
“I am planning to construct a spacious hall where I can display all the idols properly. The current room has no further space,” he remarks while proudly displaying his current collection.
“As a child I always used to sketch and draw Ganesh idols. Back in 1973, I had visited the Shirdi temple with my family and was absolutely inspired by the Lord Ganesha’s idol. Ever since then I have been collecting or making Ganesh idols and paintings. My first idol was for 50 paisa,” says P Shekhar as he reminisces his initial days.
The Ganesha connoisseur who recently entered the Limca Book of Records has all the 32 forms of Ganesh statuettes from the Bala Ganapathi to the Sankathara Ganapathi.
Whether it is any kind of exhibition, shop or even ordering it online, there is no stopping him from adding more idols to his eclectic collection.
He now aspires to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. “I have recently bought a Panchamukhi Ganesh idol and my aim is to collect over a lakh of idols,” he adds.
Apart from collecting and making them, he is also involved in the construction of a Ganesh Temple at Yadagirigutta. “I am not doing this for commercial reasons. I want people to come to the temple and be at peace. There will be a meditation room, free bus service to the temple and prasad,” explaining his future plans.
“My doors are always open. People can come and look at the collection anytime. I want them to forget all their worries and leave feeling happy and calm,” says the collector adding, “Spirituality has become very commercial.
People should be able to find some time in the day to think about God, that is all that is required.”