1. The alternative mentioned in Hindu Dharmashastra in connection with the adverse situation is ‘Apaddharma’! : ‘Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has caused many restrictions on human movements around the world. In India too, there is a lockdown in various States. Although the spread of corona is low in some places, there are many restrictions on people leaving their homes. Due to this, various festivals, ceremonies and vratas (Vowed observances) of Hindus have been restricted and cannot be performed collectively as usual. Against the backdrop of disasters like coronavirus, Hindu Dharma has suggested some options in practising code of conduct as per Dharma. This is called ‘Apaddharma’ (Code of conduct that should be followed during a calamity). ‘Apaddharma’ means ‘आपदि कर्तव्यो धर्मः ।’ (‘Aapdi Kartavyo Dharma’) meaning, ‘Acts that are recognised by Dharmashastra (A genre of Sanskrut Holy texts and refers to the shāstra or the spiritual science pertaining to Hindu Dharma) in times of calamity.’
Due to the fact that the vrat of Shri Ganesh Chaturthi and the celebration of Ganeshotsav are falling during this period, there are restrictions over the celebration of this festival collectively. From this point of view, in the present article, suggestions are given over ‘How can Ganeshotsav can be celebrated as a religious practice in present circumstances?’. The important aspect here is, ‘At what level has Hindu Dharma gone to think of human beings?’ is learned from this. This underscores the uniqueness of Hindu Dharma.
2. How to perform the vrat of Ganesh Chaturthi?: Ganeshotsav is a major festival of Hindus. On Shri Ganesh Chaturthi, as well as on the days of Shri Ganeshotsav, Ganesha Principle is active on the earth 1000 times more than usual. Currently, the prevalence of coronavirus is increasing day by day. As a result, there are restrictions on leaving the house in some places. In this connection, the vrat of Parthiv Siddhivinayaka can be performed in the following simple manner without organising shows, lighting, etc. by linking Apaddharma and Dharmashastra.
Every year, Idols made of pipeclay, plaster of Paris, etc. are worshipped. This year, in areas where the instances of coronavirus are low, that is, where the lockdown is not imposed, Ganesha Idols should be brought and worshipped as usual. (‘Why should there be a Ganesha Idol of pipeclay according to Scriptures?’, is discussed in the last aspect of the article.)
If it is not possible to leave the house for any reason, for example, if the surrounding area or building has been declared as a ‘containment area’ due to coronavirus infection, the people there can perform Shodashopachar worship of the Idol of Ganesha or image of Ganesha available in their house to obtain benefit from the Ganesha Principle. While performing this worship, it is important to keep in mind that one should not perform the ritual of ‘Pranapratishtha’ during the worship.
3. How to perform vrat of Jyestha Gauri? : In some houses, Jyeshtha Gauri is worshipped on the day of Bhadrapada Shukla Paksha 8. In some houses, it is worshipped in the form of stones, while in others it is worshipped by wearing them straight masks. Because of the coronavirus crisis, those who are unable to worship them in the form of stones or masks, as they do every year, may worship an Idol or a picture of a Goddess available in their home.
Special instruction: Only a few people in the house should move out of the house for bringing Ganesha idol and immersing it. While immersing the idol, immerse it in a pond or well near your house. It is the bounden duty of all of us to strictly follow the guidelines given by the Government to adhere due to coronavirus as there is a risk of crowd gathering during this period. – Mr Damodar Vaze, Director, Sanatan Purohit Pathshala, Sanatan Ashram, Ramnathi, Goa.
4. A reference from Dharmashastra on ‘Why should Ganesha Idol be of pipeclay? : According to Dharmashastra, worshipping the Idol of pipeclay has immense benefits at a spiritual level’.
In ‘Dharmasindhu’, the following rule is given about ‘How should be an Idol of Shri Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi?
तत्र मृन्मयादिमूर्तौ प्राणप्रतिष्ठापूर्वकं विनायकं षोडशोपचारैः सम्पूज्य…। – Dharmasindhu, paragraph 2
Meaning: On this day (on Bhadrapad Shukla Paksha 4) the Idol of Shri Ganesha should be made of clay, etc. and is worshipped in Shodashopachar manner after performing its consecration.
According to another reference, in the Scripture called ‘Smrutikaustubha’, there is a reference that Shrikrishna asked Dharmaraja to perform vrat of Siddhivinayak. It gives a detailed description of what an Idol should look like.
अथवामृन्मयी कार्या वित्तशाठ्यंं नकारयेत् ॥ – Smrutikaustubha
Meaning: For this (Siddhivinayaka’s) worship, idols of gold, silver or clay should be made as per one’s own might. There should be no stinginess in this.
Since it clearly states that Idols should be made of gold, silver, or clay, it is inappropriate from the viewpoint of Dharmashastra to make Idols from other material.’
– By Sanatan Sanstha