One of the most awaited festival of entire Maharashtra – Ganesh Chaturthi!!!
Where Lord Ganesha is welcomed with great respect, joy and love to everyone’s home!! Staying with us for 10 days, he makes the atmosphere vibrate in energy – all to a different level!!
If Mumbai is known for the huge idols touching the sky from where the almighty showers his lovely blessings!!! We Punekars – rather proud Punekar welcome Bappa in grandeur of the traditional Dhol-Tasha, lezim the colorful rangolis and even the air sings along with us – Ganpati Bappa Morya Mangal Murthi Morya!!!
Today let us just get briefed that why and how is Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrated?
The first section of the Mahabharata states that it was Ganesha who wrote down the text to Vyasa’s dictation. Ganesha is said to have agreed to write it only if Vyasa never paused in his recitation. Vyasa agrees on condition that Ganesha takes the time to understand what was said before writing it down.
So, Ganesha began to write Mahabharata along with Ved Vyasa. They wrote Mahabharata in 10 days without taking a pause. They didn’t eat/drink anything during these 10 days. Due to this, Ganesha was dehydrated.
So, a layer of clay(mitti) was applied all over his body. Then he was asked to get in river and cool down.(Something similar to Ganesh Visarjan)
And this is why we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi and immerse Ganeshji in water.
How is it celebrated?
Lord Ganesha – believed to be the remover of obstacles (Vighnaharta), and the god of intellect and wisdom (Buddhi Devta).
Worshipped by nearly all castes and all around the globe – Japan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc. Ganesha being everyone’s favorite be it the Bollywood celebrities or the common Man – I am sure everyone in our childhood must have gone crazy for the way the decorations will be done, who will get Bappa home, who will be the one performing the first aarti etc. The grand celebration starts with the installation of Ganesh idols in colorfully decorated temporary made structures – one which is made at our homes – where creativity just flows at peak – Bappa sitting on mountain type structure, at times on bed of flowers etc. Followed by the rituals – Pranapratishhtha – the process of infusing the deity into a murti or idol, Shhodashopachara – 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha,
At the time of the ritual coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva i.e. blades of grass and hibiscus flowers (His favorite flowers was what mom always told me from childhood) are offered and throughout the ceremonial occasion several hymns echoes down the mind of devotees bringing in a divine peace.
During the 10 days – if in case you have ever been part of the competitions that are held in societies, you will surely recall all those fancy dress where one becomes doctor, the other Bhaji wali and its all fun and enjoyment. 10 days just fly off in the air of happiness!!
On the last day, immersion of the statues in the ocean, or other bodies of water, and their subsequent destruction serves as a reminder of this belief. (These are traditionally known as Uttarpuja – Puja after which the idol could be shifted after it’s infusion, Ganpati Visarjan – immersion of the Idol in the river.)
Lastly. I would like to make an appeal – the tradition of immersing Bappa in river bodies was not a harm as the idols made then were of clay, mud and colurs were all natural and hence were no harm to the water animals! But in todays times the idols are all made of non-degradable material which harms the water diversity and endangers their living. Start a change from yourself immerse your “Ladka Bappa” in the artificial pools created by the local authorities.
(I am really proud that even though I was brought up in a traditional family where traditions are strictly followed as they were, on understanding the need to change our thoughts, we have been practicing Ganesh Visarjan in a self-made water tank sort of structure from past 3 years and will be continuing the same.)