Friday, 29 August 2014


Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or undertaking.
Vinayaka Chavithi is a Hindu festival celebrated on the rebirth of Lord Ganesha, Shiva and Parvati's son. Indians celebrate this festival with great fervour since they believe that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival.

The festival begins on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada and it lasts 10 days. Weeks or even months before, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are ostentatiously decorated. People place these idols of Ganesha on raised platforms in colourfully decorated homes or in purposefully erected temporary outdoors tents for people to view and pay their homage. These structures, called pandals, are decorated with flower garlands, lights or theme based decorations which depict religious or current events. For 10 days devotees offer Ganesh coconuts, jaggery or sweets such as karanji, vada and laddoo, which the women of the house prepare laborously. And the priest, with the chanting of mantras, invokes the presence of Ganesha. On the eleventh day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing and boozing to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing the see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode, while taking away everybody's misfortunes with him.


In my case, as I was a neophyte, I was taken from house to house and from temple to temple. My pupils and their families showed me all the poojas and traditions and fed me with all the sweets you can think of. I witnessed a snake pooja with Rundha;
I visited a little temple with some of the inhabitants of Marlapalle (where I was given rice and fruits and my face was 'made up');

I attended another pooja in Bharath's house (he chanted a kind of mantra while her mother offered Ganesh food and flowers);

I saw the sweet preparation at Bavith's house; I viewed a street pooja with Anuradha and Navya Sree;

And I finally saw the immersion in the river in Singirigunta;
Everywhere I went I ate, ate and ate, so imagine the stomachache I had and how many kilos I had put on when the festival finished!
They also told me two stories about Ganesh's creation. I'll tell you both.

The first one goes:

Once, while goddess Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of paste and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anybody to enter the house, and he obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned from outside, and as he tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was furious at this strange little boy who dared to challenge him. He told Ganesha that he was Parvati's husband, and demanded that he let him go in. But Ganesha refused to hear him. Shiva lost his patience and had a fierce battle with Ganesha. At least he severed Ganesha's head with his trishula. When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very angry and sad. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once. Unfortunately, Shiva's trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha's head very far off. All attempts to find the head were in vain. As a last resort, Shiva approached Brahma, who suggested that he replace Ganesha's head with the first living being that came his way which lay with its head facing north. Shiva then sent his disciples to do so. They found a dying elephant which slept in this manner, and took its head, attaching the elephant's head to Ganesha's body and bringing him back to life.

The second one, my favourite, is:

On the insistence of Shiva, Parvati fasted for a year to propitiate Vishnu so that he would grant her a son. Lord Vishnu, after the completion of the sacrifice, announced that he would incarnate himself as her son. Accordingly, Krishna was born to Parvati as a charming infant. This event was celebrated with great enthusiasm and all the gods were invited to take a look at the baby. However, Shani hesitated to look at the baby since Shani was cursed with the gaze of destruction. Parvati insisted that he look at the baby, which he did, and immediately the infant's head fell off. Seeing Shiva and Parvati grief stricken, Vishnu mounted on his divine eagle and rushed to the banks of a river, from where he brought back the head of a young elephant. It was joined with the headless body of Parvati's son, thus reviving him. The infant was named Ganesha and all the gods blessed him and wished him power and prosperity.  

You choose the one you like best, but, anyway, may the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May he remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path! May he bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!

And if you fancy, watch this Goodness Gracious Me video on a 'miracle':


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