As India gears up to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, the festive excitement is in the very air. The streets are dancing with decorative lights and the pandals are almost ready. The Lord is home.
It is that time of the year again when celebrating Lord Ganesha is foremost in the minds of the devotees.
Every year, millions of Indians bring Lord Ganesha home in the form of a murti of their choice. From large to small; from the usual to eco-friendly – devotees have no shortages of choices when it comes to murtis. Those who do not celebrate the festival are also drawn to its spirit – communal, joyous, and upbeat. Celebrated over many days; this beloved God’s birthday (Ganesh or Vinayak Chaturthi) is a jubilant and sacred event. And devotees celebrate it in any way they can – big or small. The roadside markets are lined with jasmine and marigold and beetle leaf and coconuts. Sweet shops are bursting with modaks – the humble laddu – Lord Ganesha’s favored sweet of sorts.
On this blessed occasion, here’s decoding the symbolism of Lord Ganesha that has stood the test of the times. Here’s a humble paean to Lord Ganesha through text and a reverence to all that he stands for and has since eons.
Lord Ganesha Symbolism
Lord Ganesha is a manifestation of wisdom, prosperity, fortune, and success. He is the one to call for when you face a hurdle or difficulty and wish for its removal ASAP. One of his names Vighnaharta means the one who removes all obstacles.
In Hindu mythology, he is the God of scribes and he himself was one for Sage Ved Vyas when the latter was channeling the Mahabharata. Lord Ganesha stands for intelligence and wisdom in all forms.
He is referred to as the सुखकर्ता, दुखहर्ता – the one who removes sadness and misfortune and brings in happiness and prosperity.
His name Ganpati means he is foremost of all the ganas or beings.
Invoking Lord Ganesha
वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ ।
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा ॥
This mantra is a popular way to invoke Lord Ganesha. Loosely translated into English – the one who is powerful and shines like a million suns; kindly grand all my wishes and ensure that there are no obstacles in my path to obtain those wishes.
श्री गणेशाय नमः
This mantra is a common invocation for practicing Hindus (especially those with lineage to northern part of India) before commencing any auspicious task. The devotees believe that any task that begins with invoking Lord Ganesha’s blessings will be brought to fruition without obstacles. Invoking his name alone is supposed to bring the person who invokes it good fortune and luck.
The Celebratory Spirit
If you are fortunate to be in India this time of the year, you can witness the fervor of Ganesh Chaturthi firsthand. It is a cultural event – a feast for the senses. It is time for spiritual sojourns. Be it the Ashtavinayaka in Maharashtra, the Moti Dungri Temple in Jaipur, the Siddhivinayak in Mumbai the Ranthambore Ganesh Temple, the Kalamassery Mahaganapathy Temple in Kerala or any other abode of Lord Ganesh in India; it will be filled with devotees. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small; its reverence is based on the faith of the faithful.
Participating in a celebration of Lord Ganesha or experiencing the festivities is to immerse oneself in the very spirit of India. Ganesh Chaturthi is a day that every city celebrates in its own way. You can take flights to Mumbai and witness something extraordinary during the time. It’s like the entire city is hosting a big birthday party for their beloved God and you can be a part of it. You can take flights to Hyderabad and witness a different vibe of the festivities.
Some may visit their neighborhood temple or not even venture out of their house and celebrate the festival quietly or with excitement; but in their own confines. Some may do it with a mere remembrance of this powerful God; which in itself is adequate. It is the faith that speaks and not the opulence.
Celebrating Lord Ganesha is unique to all those who believe in his might and presence.