Ganesha Chaturthi Significance

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We wish our readers a very happy Ganesha Chaturthi today (17th Septemeber 2015), may Lord Ganesh remove all obstacles in your life and enrich you with health & wealth! On this auspicious day celebrated with sweets especially “modak”, here’s some tidbits on why and how this festival is celebrated .

Ganesha Chaturthi (Gaṇēśa Caturthī or Vināyaka Caviti) is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between August and September. The festival usually lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

Who is Ganesha?

Mythology has it that Ganesha, who is also known as Vinayak or Pillayar, was created by Parvati. She made the figure out of sandalwood paste and breathed life into him. Parvati set him to the work of guarding her when she bathed.

Later, when Shiva came home, Ganesha and Shiva got into a tussle which resulted in Shiva severing Ganesha’s head. Parvati, enraged at this act of Shiva, demanded that Ganesha be brought back to life.

What is Ganesh Chaturthi?

Shiva, who promised Parvati, searched for the severed head. Even after the combined effort of Shiva and the devas, the head could not be found. Instead, they found the head of an elephant. The elephant’s head was fixed on to Ganesha’s body and thus, Lord Ganesha came into existence.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival which observes the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The festival falls on the Hindu month of Bhaadrapada (mid August- mid September). The festival lasts for ten days and ends on the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period.

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated throughout India. However, it is celebrated elaborately in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa. It is also celebrated in places outside India which have a fair share of the Hindu diaspora.

How is it celebrated?

Many weeks or months before Ganesh Chaturthi, sculptors start making life-sized clay models of the idol. Many idols of varying sizes and colours adorn the streets. They are placed on pedastals under temporary pandals or mandaps.

The Ganesha idols are decorated with garlands and lights, fruits and flowers are offered. Money is collected from the respective neighbourhood for the pandal erections and decorations.

Prasad, which also come as contributions from different households, are distributed after the evening pooja.

Celebrations at home

Simple clay models of Lord Ganesha are also available in the markets. Even to this day, traditional and orthodox families make these clay statues at home.

Flowers and durva grass or arukampul are used during the pooja along with chanting of mantras.

Festival dishes

The main sweet dish during the festival is the modak (modak in Marathi, modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka/kadubu in Kannada, kozhakatta/modakkam in Malayalam andkozhukattai/modagam in Tamil). A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada) which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has a semicircular shape.

In Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, modakkam (rice flour dumplings stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture), Laddu, Vundrallu (steamed coarsely grounded rice flour balls),Panakam (jaggery, black pepper and cardamom flavored drink), Vadapappu (soaked and moong lentils), “Chalividi” (cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture), etc., are offered to Ganesha along with Modakams. These offerings to god are called Naivedyam in Telugu. Traditionally, the plate containing the Modak is filled with twenty-one pieces of the sweet.

Festivities conclude

As per traditions followed in different states and different families, the celebrations come to an end after 1, 3, 5, 7, or 11 days. By the end of the celebration, the idol is taken to a large water body for immersion. Usually, there is a long procession involved in taking the huge idols to the lake, river, or sea. People dance, sing, and celebrate during this procession. Now-a-days, due to environmental reasons, families immerse the clay statue inside a bucket of water and let it disintegrate.

Credits: Wikipedia, NewIndianExpress

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