Delhi-based Ruchira tells us about the ten-day Ganesha Utsava that begins on Friday, Aug 25. We are introducing a new weekly column, every Friday. A special feature, here’s a Different Truths exclusive.
In the Hindu pantheon comprising 33 crores (and more) of gods and goddesses, Ganesha (Lord of the masses) comes across as the most genial, affable and sweet-tempered of them all. In the legends and myths associated with Ganesha, we never see Him getting upset, stomping off in rage, hurling weapons, or heaping curses on the offenders. On the contrary, the portly, elephant headed figure, with tiny twinkling eyes, smoothens out the path for all those who seek His help.
The story of Ganesha’s birth is too well-known to be reiterated here; instead, let us take a quick look at some of the symbols connected with him. For instance, the pot belly denotes generosity and acceptance. The upraised hand dispels fear and misgivings, while the other hand holds a bowl of sweetmeat, meant to be distributed. The single task advocates steadfastness in every undertaking. The elephantine head epitomises knowledge and wisdom, while Ganesha’s mount (or vehicle) the mouse is a symbol of hyperactivity and the ability to wriggle out of difficult situations.
Ganesha Utsav, Ganesh Pooja or whatever you would like to call it is inextricably linked with India’s history and culture. The first ever public worship of Ganesha in pre-independent India is ascribed to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who envisaged it to be a forum where revolutionaries and freedom fighters could congregate, under the garb of religious festivities, without arousing the suspicion of the authorities. To this day, the practice continues.
Ganesha worship does not involve complicated arduous rituals, fasts et al. Possibly the deity dislikes too many frills and fuss! Even his diet is simple. He has a sweet tooth though. The main item for post-puja prasada is Modak – rice flour dumplings, stuffed with sweetened, ground coconut!
Ganesha is undoubtedly the most-sought-after deity for the devout, traditional Hindus. No wedding can be solemnised without seeking His blessings; before beginning a new venture or acquiring a new home Lord Ganesha must be invoked without fail!
For an unforgettable experience of Ganesh Utsav –most popular in Maharashtra (read Mumbai) head to Aamchi Mumbai during the stipulated period. After a low-key beginning, the festivities reach a crescendo on the final day when the metropolis transforms into a vast sea of humanity. Masses bid a frenzied adieu to their beloved Lord with shrill chants of
Ganapati bappa mourya
Pudhchya varshi laukarya
So, year after year, the lovable deity returns for a ten-day sojourn with His beloved devotees before heading back home. In a way, the festival reminds us mortals about the ephemeral quality of life.
©Ruchira Adhikari Ghosh
Photos from the Internet
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