It is believed that Lord Ganesha took birth on Shukla Chaturthi of the month of Bhadrapada. Hence, this day is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi every year. Lord Ganesha is both the ‘Vighnaharta’ (vanquisher of impediments) and ‘Vighnakarta’ (master of obstacles). Just as he helps his devotees by removing the obstacles from their lives, he is also the one who creates hurdles in the lives of evil men. Lord Ganesha is known as the deity of wisdom. Riddhi and Siddhi are considered to be his consorts. One who worships Lord Ganesha not only enjoys a successful and prosperous life but also acquires knowledge and wisdom. In Maharasthra, this festival is celebrated with a great pomp and show. Lok Nayak Bal Gangadhar Tilak is the man who made this ten day annual festival popular among the masses. This year, the holy occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi falls on 22nd August2020.
On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the devotee wakes up early and prepares himself for the day’s rituals. He observes a fast on this occasion and dedicates the day in worshipping Lord Ganesha. In the afternoon, the deity is anointed with vermilion and offered a bhog of laddoos. After this, aarti is done amidst the sound of conches and bells. In the evening, once again, the devotee takes a bath and offers pooja to Lord Ganesha. After the pooja is over, he serves food to the Brahmins. The devotee breaks his fast only after the Brahmins have eaten their food. According to ritual, one should not see the moon on this day. On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the devotees listen to the following story (katha) related to Lord Ganesha.
Katha (traditional story)
Once, it so happened that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati went for a stroll beside a river. Suddenly, Goddess Parvati wished to play a game of chaupar with Lord Shiva. She expressed this desire to Lord Shiva on which he said that there is no one to decide the winner of the game. To solve the problem, Goddess Parvati took a few blades of grass with which she created an idol of a boy. She then instilled life into the boy and told him to decide the winner of their game. The game started and Goddess Parvati won it. However, at the end of the game the boy declared Lord Shiva as the winner. Furious at this announcement, Goddess Parvati cursed the boy that he would be crippled and forced to stay in deplorable conditions. The boy at once apologized to Mata Parvati and told her that he was innocent and had done the deed unknowingly. Moved by his words, Goddess Parvati told him to observe Ganesh Vrata to get rid of her curse. Saying this, she left the place along with Lord Shiva. As an effect of the curse, one of the legs of the boy got crippled and he was unable to move anywhere. Despite his physical conditions, he observed Ganesh Vrata for 21 days, following all the rituals. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Ganesha appeared in front of the boy and told him to ask for boons. The boy then asked Lord Ganesha to give enough strength to his legs so that he can travel to Kailash and seek blessings from his parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Blessed by Lord Ganesha, the boy returned to his normal conditions and his wish to meet his parents at Kailash was fulfilled too.
Different forms of Ganesha
Ganapati Puja has become quite popular over a period of time. At present, different forms of Lord Sri Ganesha is worshipped in community pujas. However, as per scriptures, 32 forms of Ganesha are the ones to be worshipped. Let us take a look at the different Ganeshas-
- Heramba Ganapati- Eight armed, fair complexion, five elephant headed, one whose vehicle is a lion.
- Kshipra Ganapati- Four armed, red complexioned
- Vighna Ganapati- Ten armed, golden complexioned
- Ucchista Ganapati- Four armed, blue complexion
- Siddha Ganapati- Four armed, yellow complexion
- Dvija Ganapati- Four armed, fair complexioned
- Sakti Ganapati- Four armed, vermilion complexioned
- Vira Ganapati- Ten armed, red complexioned
- Bhakta Ganapati- Four armed, white complexioned
- Taruna Ganapati- Eight armed, red complexioned
- Bala Ganapati- Four armed, red complexioned
- Rinamochana- Four armed, white complexioned
- Uddanda Ganapati- Twelve armed, red complexioned
- Srishthi Ganapati- Four armed, red complexioned
- Ekadanta Ganapati- Four armed, dark complexioned
- Haridra Ganapati- Four armed, turmeric complexion
- Kshipraprasada- Six armed, smeared with red sandal
- Vara Ganapati- Golden complexion
- Vara Ganapati- Four armed, red complexion
- Ekakshara Ganapati- Four armed, red complexion
- Urdhva Ganapati- Four armed, golden complexion
- Nritta Ganapati- Four armed, yellow complexion
- Vijaya Ganapati- Four armed, red complexion
- Maha Ganapati- Ten armed, three eyed, red complexioin
- Lakshmi Ganapati- Ten armed, fair complexion
- Sankata Harana- Four armed, red complexion
- Durga Ganapati- Eight armed, golden complexion
- Yoga Ganapati- Four armed, red complexioin
- Simha Ganapati- Eight armed, white complexion
- Trimukha Ganapati- Red complexion
- Dvimukha Ganapati- Four armed, green complexion
- Dhundhi Ganapati- Four armed, red complexion
Most popular Ganesha forms
Two of the most popularized Ganesha forms are- Ganesha and Swastik and Ganesha and Omkar.
Swastik was invented during the Vedic period and is an extremely sacred religious motif. It symbolizes the element of Ganesha. Symbolizing four equal arms, each bending at right angle, it stands for the unchanging, all encompassing and infinite nature of God. It has been a tradition to draw this symbol in houses on all kinds of occasions and at holy places where ‘yajna’ (offering/sacrifice) is performed. This symbol is associated with Lord Ganesha; a look at this auspicious mark and the mind automatically turns to thoughts of Ganesha and all that his grace implies. Priests first write ‘Swastik’ as a representation of Lord Ganesha and thereafter begin performing the other rituals or ceremonies. Often according to tradition, Swastik is regarded as Lord Ganesha himself and worshipped accordingly
Om is a holy symbol that represents Brahman- the omnipresent, omnipotent and the source of all existence. It has more than 100 meanings from which one of the word means, ‘welcoming the gods’. In Ganesh Purana, Lord Ganesha is also addressed by the names Pranava and Om. It is said that Om was the first sound produced from where the universe arose. This one syllable symbolizes the whole creation and the entire cycle that runs from creation to destruction. Hence, before commencing any auspicious occasion, Om is uttered and before worshipping any god or goddess, prayers to Lord Ganesha are offered. Interestingly all the objects and features on the idol of Lord Ganesha such as his head of an elephant, peculiar nose which is a trunk, the sweetmeat (modak) in his hand etc. seem to be the form of Omkar. In this form, we pay homage to ‘Mahaganapati’ or the great Ganesha. The essence of Lord Ganesha becomes one with Omkara.
Before beginning any auspicious work or event, one should seek the blessings of Lord Ganapati so that the efforts turn into success. Lord Ganesha is believed to be the divine power which destroys all hindrances and obstacles that come in the way of success.
- ‘Shri Ganeshay Namah’
- ‘Om Gang Ganapataye Namah’ : Chanting of these simple mantras help to attain success (Riddhi), prosperity (Siddhi) and intellect (Buddhi)
- ‘Om Shri Manmahaganaadhipatye Namah
- Vakratundaay Hung’ : This is one of the most favourite mantras and chanting it provides success, intellect and prosperity. One needs to follow absolute brahmacharya during the meditation of this mantra.
- ‘Om Shreeng Gang Soumyaay Ganapataye Var Varad Sarvajanmmey Vashmanay Swaha’ : Known as the Lakshmi Vinayak mantra, it is a combined mantra for both Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. Reciting this mantra blesses one with prosperity par excellence.
- ‘Om Hung Gang Glaung Haridra Ganapatye Var Varad Sarvajan Hridayam Stambhay Stambhay Swaha’ : This is the Haridra Ganesha mantra and provides one with an excellent conjugal life.
- ‘Om Ganesh Rhinam Chhindhi Vareniyam Hung Namah Phutt’ : This mantra is known as the Rhinaharta Ganesha Mantra and is extremely useful in keeping debts and poverty at bay. A single chanting of this mantra everyday ensures that the evil shadows of debts and poverty never fall in one’s life.