Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Indian Festival - Ganesh Chaturthi

Why is it celebrated?
Ganesha Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrated on the occasion of birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati. It is the day when Lord Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods. The festival, also known as Ganeshotsav, lasts for 10 days.

Lord Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.
[Src: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ganesh-chaturthi/1/217729.html ]

When is it celebrated?
Late August or early September, depending on the cycle of the moon. It falls on the fourth day after new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. The festival lasts for 10 or 12 days [Src: http://goindia.about.com/od/festivalsevents/p/ganeshfestival.htm ]

How is it celebrated?
The festival begins with the installation of huge elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha in homes and podiums, which have been especially constructed and beautifully decorated. Artisans put months of effort into making the statues. It's forbidden to look at the moon on this first night as legend had it the moon laughed at Lord Ganesha when he fell from his vehicle, the rat. On Ananta Chaturdasi (the last day), the statues are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then immersed in the ocean or other bodies of water. In Mumbai alone, more than 150,000 statues are immersed each year

Once a statue of Lord Ganesh is installed, a ceremony is undertaken to invoke his holy presence into the statue. This ritual is called the Pranapratishhtha Puja, during which a number of mantras are recited. Following this a special worship is performed. Offerings of sweets, flowers, rice, coconut, jaggery and coins are made to the God. The statue is also anointed with red chandan powder. Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha every day during the festival. Temples devoted to Lord Ganesha also organize special events and prayers. Those who have a Ganesha statue in their house treat and care for him as a much loved guest.
[Src: http://goindia.about.com/od/festivalsevents/p/ganeshfestival.htm ]

Additional Significance
* Traditional stories tell that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva returned and, as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged, severed the head of the child and entered his house. After realizing that he had beheaded his own son, Lord Shiva fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha's head. In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God. [Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesh_Chaturthi]

* Hindus worship idols, or statues, of their gods because it gives them a visible form to pray to. They also recognize that the universe is in a constant state of change. Form eventually gives away to formlessness. However, the energy still remains. The immersion of the statues in the ocean, or other bodies of water, and subsequent destruction of them serves as a reminder of this belief. [Src: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ganesh-chaturthi/1/217729.html ]
* As per Hindu mythology Lord Ganesh is considered as “Vigana Harta” (one who removes obstacles) and “Buddhi Pradaayaka” (one who grants intelligence). This festival is very important for students, they worship Lord Ganesh to illumine their minds [Src: http://www.calendarlabs.com/holidays/india/ganesh-chaturthi.php ]
* Lord Ganesha is known for his fondness for food and sweets are prepared in bounty on Ganesh Chaturthi day. The main sweet-dish during the festival is modhak and karanjis. This is known as kozhakottai in South India.
A modhak is a dumpling made from rice flour or wheat flour with a stuffing of coconut, jaggery or sugar and some other condiments like cardamom, jeera,etc . It can be either steam-cooked or fried. Modhak means "That which gives happiness" [Src: http://www.indianmirror.com/cuisine/ganesh-chaturthi.html]

Recommended Readings

In 2012, Ganesh Chathurthi falls on 19 Sep 2012 (i.e tomorrow).. So Happy Ganesh Chathurthi!

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