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Ganesh Festival: It's Influences to Hindu Believers in India
Regardless of religious affiliations, our faith transcends the very foundation of our existence..to answer the BIG question as to why we are here in this world.
As far as my knowledge can grasp, beliefs in Higher Beings are common among mankind since the beginning of time, as the scientists counted, million years ago.
With the existence of the World's Great Religions, one of which is the Hinduism, praising the Creator is always the way of believers to show their unrelenting faith by following doctrines and practices that define the group.
Just of late, my friend Shailesh Gohil from Mumbai, India shared me the feeling of being the participant of their recent festival, Ganesha Chaturthi, that usually started 20 August until September 15 (as of this writing) annually. But the ten-day of worship this 2010 started Sept 11th and ends September 21st.
As a fair person,. I befriended people of different nationalities and religions. The respect that I extend with them is also paid with the same treatment, even of greater magnitude.
I must admit, that our forefathers who occupied the land masses of this world seek refuge to a Higher Beings or gods in order to protect them from danger, among other things.
So, let's get to know more about this huge religious festival in India that were also celebrated around the world where Indian expatriates live, including my country, the Philippines.
Where to go during Ganesh Festival
Ganesh festival bridges the gap between the brahmins and non-brahmins
As history recorded, the early exhibition of Ganesh Chaturthi festival were during the reigns of dynasties in India, where the status of many people were determined by caste system, a society ranking that clearly separated the rich, freeman, slaves and poor. This was also practiced during the days of early Filipinos.
I clearly remember the situations of the untouchables, in the caste system, wherein these group of people can never participate in the political contest in Indian government before. Only those who belong to the royal bloodline can rule in the kingdom.
But this system was opposed by one great Maratha ruler in Maharashtra, in the name of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja by holding Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to promote culture and natonalism.
The elephant-headed son of Shiva (the woman with many hands) and Parvati, Ganesha is the center of the celebration that falls on his birthday. He is worship as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
The festival 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 20 August and 15 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).
But during the British invasion in the late 1800s, the invaders prohibited social and plitical gatherings among the natives.
In 1893, a noted freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak. transformed the annual festival into a large, well-organized public event and linked brahmins (people with priestly knowledge) and non-brahmins (ordinary people or believers).
The Brahmins held authority of interpretation of Vedic and Puranic spiritual texts like the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita. Aside from priests, Brahmins are educated people in the field of engineering, medicine, education or even landlords who migrated largely in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.
Neil Nitin Mukesh shares Ganesh Festival celebrations from home c/o neilnmukesh
Ganesh: The God for Everybody
Two to three months, prior to the celebration, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made and sold in the main thoroughfares or markets in India. Temporary structures or mandapas (pandals) are built in every locality, adorned with flower garlands, lights and decorations, depicting religious themes and current fads.
If you are a believer to Lord Ganesh, there are set of steps to follow:
- Pranapratishhta - A statue should be blessed or invoked with mantras (repetitive chants) by a Hindu priest, as if to give life to the statue.
- Shhodashopachara - 16 ways of paying tribute will follow. It can be done by offering coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of Kumkum & Sandalwood paste . Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
- 10 days of worship - Lord Ganesha is worshiped for ten days from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi.
- Ganesh Visarjan - the 11th day or culminating day of worship involves the much-participated street procession accompanied with dancing, singing and fanfares before being immersed in water by the river or sea, taking away all the misfortunes from his devotees as he continue his journey to his abode or home in Kailash or heavenly place.
Everyone should join by chanting these words as send-off message to Lord Ganesha:
"Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya" (O lord Ganesha, come again speedily next year)!!!
R.R.Patil at Ganesh Festival in Mumbai c/o starmajha
Hinduism: The Prime Religion during the Pre-Hispanic Philippines
As I dig deeper about Ganesh Festival, I came across with the fact that: Hinduism was the dominant religion in my country before the Spaniards invaded the archipelago in 1521.
The entire Southeast Asia was under the influence of traders from Hindu-Malayan culture led by the Majahapit empire but superseded by the Islamic Sultanate of Malacca. With the ongoing Islamic conquest, the last Hindu kings were said to seek refuge in Bali, Indonesia. With the arrival of Europeans and Arab traders, the more peace-loving Hindu believers retreated. Many rajahs or rulers of the islands lost its powers due to the ongoing Inquisition of the Spaniards.
I remember stories of heroism depicting the two great epics of India: Ramayana and Mahabharata. Versions from the different ethnic groups in the Philippines still exist.
The Maranao version is Maharadia Lawana (Maharaja Lavana) . Lam-Ang is the version of the Ilocanos and Hud-hud for Ifugaos.
Even the hundreds of dialects spoken in the entire archipelago were of Sanskrit origin from India.
No wonder, I am so interested in the Hindu culture of India.