Year after year, Ganesha’s devotees look forward to his annual coming, “GANESH CHATURTHI”. Ganesh Chaturthi falls every year on the fourth day Bhadrapad (August-September). This year, Ganesha Chaturthi started from September 13.
Who does not know about Ganesha? Ganesha, the potbellied figure with rounded, childish limbs, and an elephant’s head with one tusk broken has four arms holding a goad, a noose, and a bowl of sweets. He is a well-known deity not only because it has been ordained that before beginning any puja or worshipping any other God, one must first pray to Him. Apart from Krishna, Ganesha is the only other God in whom we find childlike innocence. A prayer in the Rig Veda invoking Ganesha shows that he has been worshipped since very ancient times. The sacred symbol “Om”, as written in Sanskrit is said to represent him. He is praised at the beginning of any ceremony or undertaking and has a thousand names, including Ganesha, Ganapati, Gajendra, Siddhidata, Vinayaka, Ekadanta etc. — all of which should be recited to avert evil and ensure success and well-being.
Now, let us see how Ganesh got his name (title) Ganapati? Once, Gods were to select a leader amongst themselves and for this, they had a race. They were to go round the universe thrice and in this race, the God who returns first would be the winner. The Gods, including Kartikeya (Ganesha’s younger brother), set out on their swift mounts and the fat Ganesha was left behind with his vehicle mouse. Ganesha went round his parents Shiva-Parvati thrice and returned to the finishing point and was declared first. All the Gods who had competed agreed that after all Ganesha had been around his universe and thus he deserved to win. Thus, Ganesha became ‘GANANAYAK’, the leader of Shiva’s ‘GANAS’ and it was decreed that people must worship him as the remover of all obstacles before they begin any suspicious work or offer puja to any other God.
Ganesha today it’s worshipped with prayer and meditation but is rarely the primary deity of devotion, except in Maharashtra where puja is offered to him and colourful processions are taken out. The history of Maharashtra since the last 200 years is recounted and eminent, Maharashtrian politicians remembered. Ganesha Chaturthi festival has provided that symbol for the Hindu regeneration in Maharashtra. Ganesha lends power in the world of action and offers protection, opens doors, and gives success to other Gods and Goddesses.
Now, let us see what Ganesha embodies within his frame and what his name signifies: “Ganesha’s potbelly or “lambda” signifies that the entire universe or “Brahma” is within Ganesh. The ever-moving trunk teaches us to be active. In his four hands “Chaturbhuja”, Ganesha carries the pasha (rope), ankusha (Curved weapon), the modak (sweets ladoos) an offering which his devotees must make to him if they wish to please him. His fourth hand is folded in benediction to his devotees, assuring them of his help and protection. Now, you all might be wondering why Ganesha, the all-dynamic Number 1 God, should ride a rat. There is a reason. The rate is traditionally associated with emotions like anger, pride, and selfishness. Ganesha’s riding a rat means that the God keeps these feelings under control.
BIG HEAD inspires us to think big and think profitably,
the BIG EARS prompt us to list patiently to new ideas and suggestions,
the NARROW EYES point to deep concentration need to finish tasks in hand well and quickly,
the LONG NOSE tells us to poke around inquisitively to learn more and
the SMALL MOUTH reminds us to speak less and listen more.
Today, Lord Ganesha is still with us. He stays with us for complete 10 days every year, before his idol is immersed in water with the prayer, “Please come soon next year.”
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)