Ganapathy or Ganesha or Vinayaka, these are a few names of my favorite God, and probably most popular from the Indian pantheon of many gods and goddesses. He has a human body and a face of an elephant. Always found in every Indian house, irrespective of the religion. Symbolically, he signifies knowledge and wisdom.
The picture above explains the Symbolism.
The people of this land, from time immemorial, were quintessential story tellers. The the collections of these stories are called Puranas. There are various tales of his glory.
Modern science today, describes visual communication as most powerful and effective way of communication. What could be a better way to tell a story and stimulate the imagination of a human mind?
The finest examples of visual communication is found in our ancient temples, where the walls and the pillars are adorned with various characters depicting tales from the Puranas. They all are also excellent examples of sculptural perfection that exists in the country.
In the most ancient temples, he is present at all the entrances. And is a celebrity amongst the gods!
Every year, he is celebrated sometime in either August or September. As per the lunar calendar, Ganesh Utsav, starts on Chaturthi, fourth day of lunar month of Bhadrapad. And ends on the fourteenth day, which is Anand Chaturdashi. This is celebrated prominently in Mumbai and all over Maharastra, the western part of India.
Almost every 3rd household invite the Lord, to their home during these days. This is, in the form of a colorful clay icon. Simple rituals are performed invoking his presence, celebrated with family and friends. He is adorned with flowers, sweets and songs of his glory are sung. Along with family and friends.
The picture above is of the sweetmeat offered to him called ‘Modak’. It is made of rice flour, jaggery, coconut, saffron and cardamom and eaten with a dash of ghee. It is Bappa’s favorite and it also has immense health benefits.
After the festivities, the immersion is after a period of one, five, seven or ten days as per the convenience. On Anand Chaturdashi, which is the tenth day, immersion mostly in the Sea or nearby lake or a pond.
The processions begin mostly at noon and lasts till the early hours of the next day. There is only celebration in the air with music and dance and you can witness a sea of humanity. Prizes are given to the best iconography of the lord. And we can see the creative best of the people who are not even trained in the art.
Covid has changed our lives. The festival shall be celebrated but not more than five people are allowed to gather. No loud speakers or processions. Only online Darshan- no visits to the pandals. Which is good in a way considering the times we are living in.
So, when international flights start, and visiting Mumbai for work or leisure, do visit one of the temples and feel the enigma of devotion. Visit one of the simpler temples in the city and hear the tales of his glory from the priest who are amazing narrators of various stories and the rituals.
Here is an interesting talk by a yogi and a mystic Sadhguru JV, who beautifully explains the significance and the true essence of the festival .
Till we meet again with my new post … Ganpati Bappa Morya!