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Thursday, Feb 20 2020  

GANESH CHATURTHI

Significance:
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August - September). It is observed throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world.

Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first in any prayers. His Names are repeated first before any auspicious work is begun, before any kind of worship is begun. He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Shiva.

Lord Ganesha is the master of all knowledge, intelligence and wisdom and His Advent is celebrated on this day (Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi). He is the leader of all Celestial beings. Vinayaka means he is the Supreme Master, beyond the mindless state and hence special significance of this day involves prayers to Lord Ganesha to give us spiritual potency by endowing us with Supreme Intelligence (Siddhi & Buddhi). Whenever people commence any undertaking or start learning music or fine arts or any branch of knowledge, first worship is offered to Ganesh (Prathmesh). Ganesha instils purity in body and fearlessness in mind and removes all the obstacles coming in the way of the devotees who pray to him sincerely. The procession of the statue of Lord Ganesha is carried around the campus during the celebrations.

Story relating to the festival:
The legend goes that there was a monster called Gajasura, a powerful monster was also a devotee of Lord Shiva. It seemed that the monster prayed for many years and as a result Lord Shiva, who was touched, granted him a boon. But the cunning monster asked Shiva to reside in his stomach. Since he had no choice, Lord Shiva granted his boon and went inside the belly of the monster.

Parvati, Shiva's wife, who was searching for her husband, became frantic with worry and went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu, who assured Parvati that he would find Shiva, disguised himself as a street player and set out with Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva, to find Shiva.
When they reached the monster Gajasura's kingdom, Nandi danced to please the monster. The monster that was pleased to see the bull dancing he decided to reward the bull.

Nandi, the bull, asked for Lord Shiva as a reward and this made Gajasura realize that the street player was Lord Vishnu. He also realized that Lord Shiva couldn't live in his belly forever and thus freed Lord Shiva. After that, he prayed to Shiva to make him immortal. To grant him the wish, Shiva severed Gajasura's head and carried the head with him.

Meanwhile, Parvati who heard that Shiva's out of the monster's belly was joyful. In order to prepare for her Lord's return she went to have a bath, but before that she asked someone to stand guard outside. She made a boy out of dough and named him 'Vinayak'.

But when Lord Shiva returned, the boy refused to let him enter the palace, as he had never seen him before. This made Lord Shiva furious and thus he beheaded the boy and went inside. When he saw Parvati, he told her about his beheading of the boy. This shocked and upset Parvati. She told Shiva that 'Vinayak' was like a son to her and that she wanted him back alive. Thus Shiva put the head of Gajasura on the boy's head and the boy 'Vinayak' came to life. Shiva also blessed him and announced that everybody would worship him on that day. And thus the festival 'Ganesh Chaturti' marks the day when 'Vinayak' came back to life.

Swami's message on Ganesh Chaturthi:
"You are under the false impression that today (Ganesha Chaturthi) is the birthday of Vinayaka. He has neither birth nor death. He has neither beginning nor end. He is the eternal witness."
- Sai Baba, Sanathana Sarathi, October 1999, p.267

"The Ganapati festival is an occasion for people to purify their minds. People generally tend to see in others the faults, which they themselves have. Thereby they try to cover up their own defects by attributing the same defects to others. This is a bad quality."
- Sai Baba, Sanathana Sarathi. September 1992, p.222


How is the Festival celebrated:
During the festivals, beautifully sculpted Lord Ganesh idols are installed in the Mandaps (large tents) that are colourfully decorated, depicting religious themes or current events. There are huge public displays of Lord Ganesh idols with Aarti (song of devotion to God) and loud music and dancing by the devotees.

This activity is most popular in Bombay and Pune, with "Shrimant Dagadu Shet Halwai Ganapati" in Pune being the main attraction of the Utsaav. Many cultural events are organised and people participate in them with keen interest. On the tenth day, huge processions carry images of the God to be disposed off into the water, hoping for them to return early next year. When the idols are immersed in the water, people sing, "GANPATI BAPPA MORYA, AGLE BARAS TO JALDI AA," ("Father Ganpati, Next Year Come Again.").

Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important of all Maharashtrian festivals, and is celebrated with great aplomb amongst Marathi communities worldwide. On the occasion of the Ganapati festival a large number of images are made of all possible sizes, and people buy them to keep in their houses as a divine guest for one and a half, five, seven, or ten days, after which the image is taken out ceremoniously and taken into the river, sea or well for immersion or "Visarjan".

Jai Sai Ram

Bro Aravin
SSEHV Group 4


 

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