Ganesha Chaturthi is the day Lord Ganesha was born. On this day in countless Hindu homes across the country and in Maharashtra in particular idols of Ganesha are brought and worshipped. These are kept upto a period of ten days or less and are then immersed in the waters of ponds, lakes, rivers sea The grand immersion is on the Visarjana day. During this period cultural festivities are held everyday along with puja and arthi. The celebrations  are at its most vigorous form in the state of Maharashtra.

Ganesha is the remover of obstacles. Before any activity Hindus never fail to pray to Lord Ganesha for removal of  any obstacles. This ensures an auspicious beginning. It will be a rare Hindu home which will not have an idol or image of Ganesha in the house. Indeed Ganesha is artistically the most represented of all the Hindu Gods.

Ganesha is known by his three very popular titles of Ganpati, Vighneshwara (removal of obstacles) and Vighnakarta (creator of obstacles). As per the Ganesha Sahasranama he has a thousand titles and each represents or conveys a different meaning. Ganesha is supposed to be the Sanskrit compound of Gana meaning many and isha meaning lord or master. Thus Ganesha is the lord or master of many aspects.

Ganesha has the head of an elephant on a human body. According to one legend Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The most enduring legend states that once when Parvati was taking a bath she asked Ganesha to stand on guard. Shiva came at that moment and wanted to meet Parvati. When Ganesha objected an angry Shiva beheaded him. when Parvati informed Shiva that it was their son Ganesha a repentant Shiva then attached the first head he saw which happened to be that of an elephant and Ganesha came back to life. Thus Ganesha is also known as Gajapati as gaja in Sanskrit means elephant. Yet another legend says that Ganesha was created by Parvati out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the created figure.

Ganesha is also known as Ekdanta as one of his tusks is broken. He is also known as Lambodara because of his pot belly or hanging belly. Ganesha is also known as Pille in Tamil language. In Burmese language Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne and in Thailand is known as Phri Phikanesuan. In Sri Lanka he  is known as Aiyanayaka deviyon and Gana deviyon.

Ganesha is also known as the creator and destroyer of obstacles and he is also respected and  worshiped  as the Lord of learning. Thus one of his names is Budhipriya or the lover of intelligence. The concepts of Buddhi (intellectual power), Siddhi (spritual power)and Riddhi (prosperity) are also associated with Ganesha.

it is interesting to note that the transport or the vahana of Ganesha is the tiny mouse or musaka in sanskrit. It is said that Ganesha can reach everywhere just as the mouse can do. nothing will escape Ganesha's attention. The tiny mouse is always shown placed at the feet of Ganesha.

It was the freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak who popularised the celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi as a public event from 1893 onwards. He saw in it an opportunity to bring all caste of Hindus on one platform and also propagate  the message of fight for freedom from the British. It was he who started the practice of installation of large size idols at public places and their subsequent immersion in rivers, ponds etc. on the tenth day after Ganesha Chaturthi. Since then it has turned into an annual ritual  celebrated with lots of colour, gaiety, music and vigour by Hindus all over the country and abroad. Thus a private puja became a public event bringing all classes of people together.

Ganesha is the most popular of the Hindu gods and is liked by young and old alike, The cry of Ganpati bapa Mourya, Pudhchya Varshi Loukar Ya reverberates throughout on the Visarjana day.

The day of Visarjana especially in the city of Mumbai. People walk milres along with the huge idols to the place of immersion. There is dance and music all the way with liberal sprinkling of colour by the bystanders. It is a spectacle worth watching and taking part in.

The non sectarian god Lord Ganesha is truly the most lovable and the least controversial of all the gods in Hinduism. Painters and sculptors like him a lot and have made hundreds of artistic images and idols of Ganesha. There hardly will be an automobile in the country which will not have Ganesha in it to remove all the obstacles in the journey. In life's journey also Ganesha clears the way for us. Jai Ganesha.

Image from Wikimedia

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