Ganesh Chaturthi

Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganapathi

Vigneshwara, one of the popular deities worshipped by members of most Indian religions. It is Maharashtra's most important festival. Ganapathy is also the God of Knowledge and is invoked at the commencement of any function. He is the god that protects his devotees from any obstacles ( vighnam ). Hence the name Vighneswara. He is also described as the Supreme Leader ( Vinayaka). Ganapathy is said to have had two spouses. Buddhi(intellect) and Siddhi(achievement). Thus he is the master of knowledge and achievement.

Probably, a combination of Sidhhi and Vinayak have given Mumbai's most famous Ganesh temple the name of Siddhivinayak. His parents were Siva and Parvati.Legend has it that Ganapathy himself wrote the Mahabharata, to the dictation of Guru Veda Vyasa. He is also considered the most intelligent. A challenge was thrown to brothers Ganapathy and Karthikeya by Sage Narada. The challenge was whoever went around the globe first would have the fruit first. Karthikeya went around the world which took quite some time while Ganapathy went round his parents thrice and claimed the fruit. The logic he gave was that since his parents represented the universe he had gone round them.

Now do not look at this story as a rational logical person but try and understand the thought behind it. It is to do with the use of the Intellect. Ganapathy used it to know what the Sage meant while his brother took the Sage ka order at face value. Similarly in our lives we must learn to use our Intellect ( the ability to discriminate between right and wrong ) and look at the deeper meanings of things. Using our intellect will force us to make decisions, right or wrong, time will tell. If wrong, so what, we will learn by our mistakes. The key is to try.

Ganesh Puja was prevalent in Maharashtra since the ancient times. We owe it to Bal Gangadhar Tilak for reviving it. He used to unite the people and arouse them against the misdeeds of foreign rule. Its popularity has only grown in recent times. The annual ceremony at Chowpatty ( Mumbai ka beach ) gets lacs of people wanting to have a dekho at the Elephant God being immersed into the Arabian Sea.

Lord Ganesh is worshipped in different forms in India and abroad. At Jabbalpore the Lord appears in a female form. At Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh he appears as playing a flute.

He is worshipped as Mahabini in Borneo, Totkar in Mongolia, Tchoprak in Tibet, Brahganesh in Cambodia, Kwanshidiyik in China, Vinayaksha in Japan. Vaishnavites call him Vishwak Sena. There is a rock cut temple in King-Hsein in China for him. With five faces he is worshipped in Nepal. In a Yogic pose of meditation he attracts the people of Java. He can truly be said to be India's international God.

Taking his example I would urge Indians to be outward looking. India prospered when its interaction with the world was at its zenith. Lets shed our inhibitions and complexes of the Nehruvian Era and participitate in the world as Equals, second to none.

As Ekadanta, the Lord has limitless powers. As Heramba, he removes obstacles. As Lambodara, He protects all worlds. As Surpa Karna, He shows compassion by giving the highest knowledge. All these names for Lord Vinayaka, who is the Lord of all.The Lord has four hands. In one hand he has a rope while in another he has an axe. With the axe he cuts off the attachment of his devotees to the world of plurality and thus end all the sorrows that go with it.

The rope is used to pull the devotee close and closer to the Truth. In a third hand he holds a rice ball that represents the joys of Sadhana. With the other hand he blesses his devotees and protects them from obstacles that they may encounter on their Spiritual path of seeking the Supreme.

Now, some of you might argue that what is a God doing with an axe. How can he be party to violence ? Again the key is to look at the deeper meaning. The axe signifies the cutting of our attachments with the objects of the world, on a materialistic and emotional plane. 

History of Public Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi

In 1894, Lokmanya Tilak himself placed an idol of Lord Ganesh in Vinchurkar Wada, Maharashtra, India and began this practice.

Lokmanya Tilak's aims behind starting the public celebration of the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi

Prior to starting this public celebration, the social scenario of the Hindus was not stable. The Hindus were not very keen on practicing their religion. They were disunited. The Indians were cowed down by the supremacy of the Westerners. The natural prowess of the Indians was suppressed by this state of affairs

Observing all of this, Lokmanya Tilak took the initiative of starting a public celebration of the festival keeping in mind the below aims.

To create awareness about religion through the programs organised during the public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi among the Hindus 
To make Hindus aware of their latent prowess 
To nullify the feelings of animosity in society 
To make people aware about their rights and duties 
To rejuvenate the good religious customs 
To commence crusades essential in those times 
To activate the energies present naturally in the society and those generated traditionally. 

Ganapathi Bapa Moriya Pudchya Varshi Laukar Yaa. ( ganapathi, the lord, come again soon next year.) 

Science behind rituals performed for Ganesh Chaturthi

Some practical questions regarding Ganesh Chaturti celebrations

What is the significance of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi? 
In the 120 days from the full moon (pournima) in Ashadh till that in Kartik of the Hindu lunar calendar, yama frequencies, which have the ability to destroy and are tama predominant reach the earth in greater quantities. During this period they are of a greater intensity. However since during the same period, that is from the fourth day (chaturthi) in the bright fortnight of Bhadrapad till Anant chaturdashi, Ganesh frequencies too reach the earth in greater quantities it helps in reducing the intensity of the yama frequencies. Thus celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi derives the benefits from Ganesh frequencies and helps in reducing the effects of yama frequencies.

What should be the duration of the celebration according to scriptures? 
According to the scriptures, it should be worshipped ritualistically and immersed immediately thereafter. Since divinity in the sculpt made from mud remains only for one day one can immediately immerse them on second day. It is because man enjoys celebrating festivals and was not satisfied with celebrating for only one day, man began festivities by keeping the idol for one and a half, five, seven or ten days. According to the custom, Ganesh should be immersed on the first, second, third, sixth, seventh or tenth day.

Can we change the duration of the celebration to one and a half day or do we need to ask someone before doing so? 
Even if according to the family tradition of spiritual practice (kulachar) the Ganapati was to be kept for five days, one can worship the idol for one and a half or seven days. One need not ask an authority in Spirituality before doing so.

What is the need for a new idol? 
Inspite of having an idol of Ganapati, which is routinely worshipped, a new idol is brought for Ganesh Chaturthi. During the period of Ganesh Chatuthi, the Ganesh frequencies reach the earth in larger quantities. If these frequencies are invoked in the usual idol of worship, then that idol will acquire a tremendous amount of energy. To worship such an idol meticulously observing all the norms of ritualistic worship throughout the year would be a difficult task as one would have to follow the restrictions of ritualistic worship (karmakanda).
Hence, a new idol is installed to invoke the Ganesh frequencies and is then immersed. The proportion of sattva, raja and tama components in Ganapati frequencies is 5:5:5 while that in an average person is 1:3:5. This makes it difficult for an average person to receive Ganesh frequencies for a long time.

Which family member should celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi? 
The vowed religious observance followed for Ganesh chaturthi is referred to as 'Siddhivinayak vrat'. Actually it is beneficial if all family members observe it. If all the brothers live in a joint family, that is have a common treasury and kitchen, then jointly a common idol can be worshipped. However, if due to some reason the treasury and kitchen are separate then each one should observe the vowed religious observance of Ganesh (Ganeshvrat) in one's own home. 

Rituals and their significance

Before commencing the ritualistic worship, rice (grain) is spread over the seat on which the idol is to be installed. Either a fistful or a mound of rice is used, depending on the local custom. On invocation of Ganapati and His ritualistic worship, energy is generated in the idol. This energy saturates the rice on which the idol is placed. If there are two strings of a musical instrument (a stringed musical instrument) of the same frequency, when sound is generated by one the same is generated by the other. Similarly, when frequencies of energy are generated in the rice below the idol, this energy is transmitted to the rice stored in the house. Thus one can eat rice saturated with energy as a sacrament of food (prasad) throughout the year.

When performing each of the following rituals a particular mantra is recited.

[Detailed information on ritualistic worship is given in 'Science of Spirituality: Chapter 7 - Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga)'. The actual ritualistic worship is based on 'Shri Ganesh Pujavidhan' compiled by Mr. S. K. Devdhar.]

1. Sipping water from the palm (achaman): This brings about internal purification. 

2. The resolve (sankalpa): It may be difficult to obtain the benefit of a ritual without making a resolve. 

3. Purification of the seat (asanshuddhi): This is brought about by touching one's seat and offering obeisance (namaskar). 

4. Chanting the Purushsukta (Purushsukta nyas): Amidst chanting of the Purushsukta, the deity should be invoked in one's heart, head, small portion of hair on the head (shikha), face, eyes and between the eyebrows. This facilitates an increase in the sattvik (sattva predominant) temperament. 

5. Worship of the pot (kalashpuja): All deities, seas, holy rivers, etc., should be invoked in the pot. Sandalwood paste (gandha), consecrated rice (akshata) and flowers should be offered to the pot. This sattvik water is then used in the ritualistic worship. 

6. Worship of the conch (shankhapuja): The conch should be washed and filled with water. Then sandalwood paste and white flowers should be offered to it. One should not offer consecrated rice and tulsi leaves to it. 

7. Worship of the bell (ghantapuja): One should create sound by ringing the bell to welcome the deities and drive off the demons (asurs). The bell should be placed to one's left and sandalwood paste, consecrated rice and flowers should be offered to it. 

8. Worship of the lamp (dipapuja): Sandalwood paste and flowers are offered to the lamp. 

9. Purification (pavitrikaran): The water from the conch should be poured onto one's right palm and then sprinkled over oneself and on the substances to be used in the ritualistic worship. 

10. Worship of the entrance (dvarpuja): Flowers and consecrated rice should be scattered in all four directions. This itself is the worship of the guardian deities of the directions (dikpal). 

11. Consecration of the idol (pranpratistha): One should place the right hand over the heart of the idol of the deity and chant a mantra. Consecration of an idol is done at Ganesh chaturthi or to activate any new idol. This is not included in the usual ritualistic worship, as due to the regular worship the God principle has already been attained by it.

12. Meditation (dhyan): One should chant 'Vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha Nirvighnam kurume deva sarva Karyeshu Sarvada