Thursday, September 1, 2011

GANESHA CHATURTHI

Today is Ganesha Chaturthi day which is also known as 'Vinayaka Chaturthi'.It is the fourth day after no moon day in the month of Chingam(Bhaadrapada month).It is a very auspicious day which is celebrated all over India,Nepal and by Hindus living abroad.
God Ganesha is famous as Ganapathi,Vinayaka,Vigneswara,Vignaraja etc.He is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathy and there are different stories about his provenance.According to one belief he was born during the period Shiv-Parvathy took the form of elephants for fun and so the child turned out to be an elephant.In another story, Shiv-Parvathy with Ganesha were roaming in 'Kiratha' forms when the demon 'Tharakasura' attacked them on the way. Tharakasura was mounted on the  elephant 'Eiravatham' which he had captured from 'Indra'.Ganapathy suddenly took the shape of an elephant and defended.Elephant 'Eiravatham'  in terror fled away with the Asura on its back.The victorious Ganesha requested and pleaded Lord Shiva to allow him to continue in that elephant form always and so Mahadeva(Lord Shiva) and Parvathy Devi agreed to his request.
Yet another story is that Parvathy devi created him from clay and gave life.In another version it is said that Parvathi devi made him from the turmeric paste she applied on her body before taking bath.It is a custom and habit in many parts of India, ladies using turmeric paste all over their body before bath as a natural protective medicine for the skin and as a natural dye.Parvathy devi made life to the statue she made out of the turmeric paste and while taking bath with other friends in the pond ordered Ganesha to stand at the gate in vigil and not allow anybody inside.At that time Lord Shiva arrived there and little Ganesha stopped him at the gate.The provoked Shiva in his instigated state did not even think who the boy was but cut off his head.But he gave back him life by replacing the head of an young elephant.The variation of this story is that when stopped at the gate the provoked Shiva touched  little Ganesha's head with his trident and his head burned to ashes.When understood that Parvathy devi had created him as her son Lord Shiva  revived him using the head of an young elephant.Since the original head was burnt to ashes the need for a new head aroused.And by God's decree Ganesha got an elephant head.In the Puranas it is stated that Ganapathy had eight births  known generally as 'Ashta Ganapathies'.He is depicted as having several hands and with five heads also.
Ganapathy is revered by Hindus as well as Jains and Budhists also.He is well known in Taiwan,Thailand,Malasia etc.He is the God of Budhi(Intellect),Sidhi(Spiritual power) and Ridhi(Prosperity).
He is the God of Knowledge and wisdom also.He is associated with Saraswathi, Goddess of Knowledge,education,art and culture and also got association with Mahalakshmi the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Once Goddess Saraswathi handed 'the fruit of knowledge' to sage Narada and asked to give it to anybody who was worth and eligible to have it.Narada gave it to Mahadeva and requested  to give it either to Subramanya or Ganesha.Mahadeva suggested a contest to Subramanya and Ganeha that he would give the fruit of knowledge to the winner who comes first after  going  round the Kailas Mountain on foot. Ganesha started  walking slowly thinking that let Subramanya  win.Subramanya who was walking ahead of Ganesha thought meanwhile that Ganesha should win and he hided beside a rock to allow Ganesha to surpass him and reach first.Ganesha did not see this  but thought that he might have reached  parents abode. When Ganesha reached first and won the race he felt anxious about his brother Subramanya  and   went back in  search of him.Meanwhile Subramanya was being attacked by  a demon who was the elder brother of 'Tharakasura'.The demon found Subramanya sitting alone a rock  and in  revenge for killing his brother Tharakasura, the demon was attacking   Subramanya.The demon was tough like a  rock and Ganesha when struck him with his tusk one of the tusk broke.Thus Ganesha became 'Eka Danta'(Having only one tusk). In another story Lord Parasurama once pushed aside Ganesha and he fell down and broke his left tusk.In many depictions it is shown that Ganapathy holding his broken tusk in his hand.Later Ganapathi used it to write 'Mahabharata' epic also.
When ' Sage Veda  Vyasa' decided to write 'Mahabharata' he wanted the help of  somebody enlightened who could write fast the versus he sings from his mind.Nobody was able to write that much fast and Ganapathy who ate the fruit of knowledge was requested to help him.Ganapathy agreed but with one condition.He said  that Vyasa should recite the versus continuously from his mind without allowing break for Ganapathi's pen.Vyasa agreed but put forth a condition that Ganapathy should understand the meaning of all  the versus while writing down. He also agreed but Ganapathy had to slow down his speed of writing  several times while thinking about the inner meanings of some  words and the meaning of some tough words while Veda Vyasa could frame new lines in his mind.Ganapathy used his broken tusk chiseled sharp and inscribed on palm leaves to make the text of Mahabharatha.
The Devas(Celestial beings) always approached the Trinity, Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva to get resolve their problems.One day when their delegates came to 'Kailas' with their sorrows Lord Shiva asked Subramanya and Ganapathi, that who could console Devas and  remove their sorrows.Subramanya said he was ready but Ganesha said nothing.Lord Shiva said he would give blessings and boon to one of them and  powers to remove sorrows of all living beings in all the three worlds.Lord Shiva suggested a contest for them  to revolve round the universe and the winner would be granted several  power of authority.Subramanya immediately flew off on his peacock, but Ganesha thought for a second and made seven rounds (pradakshinas) around Shiv-Parvathy, his  Father and Mother.When finished the seven 'Pradakshinas' he bowed to them and said that he won the contest..Lord Shiva  happily  proclaimed that Ganesha won the race to everbody's astonishment.At that time Subramanya came back after revolving round the universe and he was also surprised to find  that Ganesha was the winner.It was Ganesha's wisdom that made him the winner.Shiv-Parvathy is filled in every corner of the Universe.Going round them and going round the universe is the same.Moreover Ganapathy was revealing the truth  that everbody should consider their parents equal to God  by giving them a higher level in our mind as equal to the universe itself.
(There are variations in the stories.In the Tamil movie 'Thiruvilayadal' the contest for getting 'gnana pazham(fruit of knowledge)  is shown as  going round the universe.)
This incident happened on a Chaturthi Day.Lord Shiva blessed Ganapathi and gave him several powers.He was given power to remove sorrows of all living beings in all the three worlds.He should be worshiped prior to starting of any auspicious ceremonies  and in all important things.In all pooja rituals he will be given the No.1 priority.Thus Ganapathy who was the leader of Lord Shivas semi-divine hosts  became the authority of all living beings also and literally became Ganapathy.(Pathy- authority of all Gana-living beings)The crescent moon was allowed to adorn his crown.Thus Vinayaka Chaturthi Day became a day of Celebration.Ganapathy is worshiped by all for removing their  obstacles.He is capable of giving obstacles as well as removing all obstacles also.He is fond of sweet items such as Modakam,Laddu,Unniyappam etc.Kerala people believes that when coconut is thrown and break to pieces on the stone meant for that purpose in Ganapathi temples our obstacles will  also be  scattered to pieces.Observances are practiced by several devotees on Chaturthi day.It is not difficult but eat only tender coconut,fruits and sweet items like Unniyappam,Modakam,Laddu etc  which we receive from Ganapathi temples on that day.Visit Ganapathy temple and witness the pooja rituals being  held there.
Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in an elaborate manner all over India especially in Maharashtra and in some north Indian states..Ganesolsavam which is a ten day festival is celebrated which starts on the Chaturthi day.Beautiful idols of Ganesha are made and worshiped in pavilions in all important places.People in the  locality worship him with their offerings.In Kerala also in each and every places Ganesolsavam for 10 days is celebrated. After ten days the idols will be taken in processions to nearby sea,river or pond and immersed.Lord Ganapathy will bring in blessings and prosperity and will take away all evils and bad luck is believed by these cults.
Let us pray Lord Ganapathy to bless us with Budhi(Intellect),Sidhi(Spiritual power) and Ridhi(Prosperity).

                                                       Om Ganeshaya Namaha

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