Lord Ganesha is one of the deities in Hinduism who is also called ‘Vighnaharta’ or the conqueror obstacles. It is said that he removes all kinds of obstacles from one’s path. As per Hindu rituals, Lord Ganesha is worshipped before any other puja or auspicious ceremony. He is also the lord of wisdom and intelligence. He is associated with success, happiness, and joy. The festival Ganesh Chaturthi was the day when Lord Ganesha was born, begins on Chaturthi or the fourth day of Bhadrapada. As per the Hindu calendar, Bhadrapada is the sixth month and falls within August-September of the English calendar. This festival is celebrated for 10 days and is also popular as Vinayaka Chaturthi. Vinayaka is another name for Lord Ganesha, meaning “destroyer of all evils”.
Ganesh Chaturthi: Mythology and History
Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in various parts of India, but it holds special importance in the state of Maharashtra. Beautiful idols are created and sold all over India in different sizes. Apart from households, Ganesha is also worshipped on a huge scale by organizations, associations, and community groups. Holidays are given to commercial establishments, schools, offices, etc as per the assigned number of days. While there are a lot of delicacies prepared during this festival, modak is the favorite sweet of Lord Ganesha and is a must for this festival.
As per mythology or Hindu texts, Lord Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati and thus he was her son. When goddess Parvati was taking bath, she told Ganesha to guard the entrance and not to allow anyone inside. When Lord Shiva arrived, Ganesha denied him entry which turned him furious. As a result of this Lord Shiva beheaded Lord Ganesha. When Goddess Parvati came to know this, she was shocked and furious at Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva also came to know about Ganesha and to save him he ordered his Ganas to bring the head of someone who could be found first. As a result, the head of an elephant was bought as he was seen first, and it was fixed on the body of Lord Ganesha. This day is considered a rebirth of Lord Ganesha and is celebrated as Ganesha Chaturthi. He was blessed by all Gods and given a boon by Shiva that he will be the first God to worship before any other God’s puja or any auspicious occasion. There are 31 forms of Ganesha as per Mudgala Purana. There are many temples all around the world where he is worshipped and cherished.
Ganapati or Ganesha can be found in Rig veda. After that, he is mentioned in vajasenayi Samhita,Mahabharata, Skanda purana, Brahma vaivarta purana and more. Archaeological evidence is also there in many Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples during the period 5th to 8th century BC. In many old paintings or carvings, he is also seen with his two wives Riddhi and Siddhi. Ganesh Chaturthi is known to be celebrated publicly during the reign of Chatrapati Shivaji in Pune (1630-1680). Lots of problems and control of the British empire negatively influenced this festival later but it was eventually revived by well-known Marathi’s like Bhausaheb Laxman Javale and Lokmanya Tilak.
Lord Ganesh: Symbolism
Elephant head – Wisdom
Truck – Success and moksha
Two tusks – emotions and wisdom
Four arms – mind, ego, intellect, and conscience
Axe on the one hand – Weapon to remove obstacles
Second hand – as a whip to get rid of worldly pleasures
Third hand – a symbol of blessing for the devotee (Abhaya mudra)
Fourth hand – a reward for hard work
The elephant-headed God Ganesha has symbolic value and significant details that give us spiritual significance. While the elephant head symbolizes wisdom, the trunk is of success and moksha. The trunk is also shown as a capability to adapt to anything in this universe. The two tusks of Ganesha are symbols of emotions and wisdom. The four arms depict the mind, ego, intellect, and conscience. The axe, on one hand, is the weapon to repel evil or remove obstacles. Another hand has a whip that tells us to get rid of worldly pleasures or desires. The third hand symbolizes blessing for the devotee or protection, also called Abhaya mudra. The fourth hand generally holds the sweets modak or laddu, which is the reward for hard work by the devotee. The huge round belly of Ganesha is called a cosmic belly capable of holding the universe. The mouse at Ganesha’s foot is the vahana that he rides. The mouse can remove all obstacles and can also be represented as an ego that should be under control and humble like a devotee.
Ganapati Atharvashirsha is one of the Sanskrit texts popularly chanted and comes from Upanishad. As per Upanishads, it is beneficial to chant this regularly by a devotee for success and prosperity.
Some of the popular and beneficial mantras are as below:
- Sri Ganesha Moola Mantra- Om Gam Ganapataye Namah
- Ganesha mantra- Gam
Three popular Ganesha Gayatri Mantra:
- Om ektantaya vidmahey
Tanno danti prachodayat.
- Om Tatpurushaya vidmahey
Tanno danti prachodayat.
- Om Tat karataya vidmahey
Tanno danti prachodayat.
There are a lot of interesting stories in Hindu texts about Lord Ganesha. He can be seen as Shiva and Parvati’s little son and as a powerful God fighting demons. In every way, he is the one who gained faith, love, and respect from devotees worldwide. Thousands of beautiful Ganesha idols are worshipped each year and discarded after visarjan, highlighting the water pollution problem. Nowadays, many organic idols are environmentally friendly and can help protect our planet and living creatures from the toxic materials used in some kinds of idols. We are also responsible for respecting our gods and the earth where we live.