Ganesh Chaturthi-A Colorful and Joyful Festival of India
Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi
The festival called 'Ganesh Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chaturthi' is for the worship of Lord Ganesha, the deity of Knowledge and Wisdom. He is also the God of Good Beginning and Prosperity. This day is also the birthday of Ganesha. The Moon also is worshiped on this festival. According to Hindu philosophy, The moon is the deity of Health and Beauty. This festival usually comes in the months of August or September. This time it is on September 17, 2015 (Thursday), If you wish to know more about Ganesha, please read my Hub "Ganesha, The God of Good Beginning and Prosperity".
The festival is more enthusiastically celebrated in Maharashtra, especially in its capital city Mumbai. It is also passionately celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa. In Maharashtra, the celebration lasts for 10 days.
The immersion of Ganesha idol into river or sea (Ganesha Visarjjan) after taking on a great procession is the main highlight of this festival. Though it is a Hindu festival, people from other faiths also actively join in the procession and involve in its engagements. The famous film star from Bollywood (Mumbai) Salman Khan, though a Muslim, always shows a keen interest in the festival program. See the photo appended.
Let's listen to the story behind this festival.
Story related to Ganesh Chaturthi/Vinayaka Chaturthi
Ganesha and Kartikeya were the children of Lord Shiva. Once he asked his sons which one of them was capable of protecting gods. Both kids gave him positive answers. Karthikeya claimed that he could do it because he was the Commander of the Force of Gods. And Ganesha said he was the Protector of Gods without being their Commander.
Shiva got confused. To decide the issue, Shiva decided to put the two to a test. He asked them to race around the earth. He also informed them whoever would be back first was to be the winner.
Thus, the father put a tough challenge for the children. His idea was to know who would really be capable of protecting gods.
According to Hindu belief, almost all gods have a vehicle or career. These two had their own. Kartikeya got on his carrier Peacock and set out for the round. The poor Ganesha's vehicle was Mouse. He thought he would get nowhere on his carrier. He was clever and planned a trick. He just started circling his parents three times and sat down to wait for the return of his brother Kartikeya. Back from the long journey around the earth, Kartikeya asked why Ganesha did not take part in the race. The intelligent Ganesha had a sudden reply. He claimed he had taken part by going around his parents not once but thrice. He also stated that for a faithful son, his parents are his world and the universe.
His argument was accepted and he won the race. The valid point of the smart boy was accepted by all the gods and Kartikeya. A pleased Shiva also declared he would be treated as first worshipable deity among all gods thenceforth. With his newly granted power, Ganesha banished the problems god were facing.
Shiva was happy on Ganesha's empowerment. He said "on Magh Krishna Chaturthi day, the moon will adorn your forehead and the world will be blessed with its cool glow. Whoever worship you and-and offer milk to the moon on this day shall be rid of ailments and physical infirmities. They would also be gaining happiness, splendor, offspring and good fortune".
Activities during the festival
The faithful keep fast on this day. One must worship the idol of Ganesha made of gold, silver, copper, clay or cow dung after the ablution. Since sweets are the favorite of Ganesha, it is offered. During worship, the idol is offered 21 sweets balls (Laddoos). After pooja (worship), out of 21 laddoos, ten are given to Brahmins and the rest eleven are consumed by the faithful. Gauri Ganesh idols are installed and poojas performed. Naivedya items and oblations are kept covered overnight. Then it is distributed amongst kith and kin as 'prasadam' in the next morning. Cultural programs and other entertainment events are conducted during the festival days. In Mumbai and some part of Maharashtra, it may last for ten days.
A Video related to the festival
The Story of a curse related to Ganesh Chaturthi
The faithful avoid seeing the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. It is believed that seeing the moon on this day is bad and an ill-omen. Why do they believe so? There is a story to support this myth.
Ganesha was once invited to a feast. He ate a lot and was very much delighted on the sumptuous buffet for he always loved food. He requested for more and more food and had all. When the feast was over, everyone started leaving. But the poor Ganesha could barely walk. He had over eaten, which gave him all the troubles. Lifting his big potbelly, he was slowly walking. It was really a funny sight.
Chandra, the Moon God started laughing at Ganesha on seeing this funny scene. Ganesha felt greatly insulted. He cursed the moon saying "anyone who sees you on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi will be wrongly blamed and punished". And this is the reason for devotees avoid seeing the moon on this day.
Then, is there any solution if one happens to see the moon on this day? Yes, the story has an episode to this effect also. It goes thus:
Chandra (moon) was worried on the curse and highly disturbed on Ganesha's angry. He suddenly begged him for forgiveness and asked him to take back the curse.
Ganesha answered, "a curse once given cannot be taken back. But if someone sees you on Ganesh Chaturthi, the curse will not take effect provided he or she sees you the next night as well". Chandra returned happily thanking Ganesha. But still most of the faithful are ignorant on this remedy part and take all steps not to meet the moon on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi".
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