Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: Interesting Ganpati stories you would love reading
As Mumbai is all set to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with pomp and fervour, we look at some interesting stories about Ganpati's life which reiterate why he is much loved by all
Mumbai is all set to welcome the elephant-headed god, the lovable Lord Ganesha also called Ganpati. The 10-day long Ganeshotsav begins from September 13. The first Ganesh Chaturthi celebration dates back to the era of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The festival was then continued to be celebrated by the Peshwas. The festival was revived by freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak during 1894 to rally the masses during the Independence movement. The festival started on a modest ground with a small group of people at Keshavji Nayak Chawl in congested Girgaum in south Mumbai. Today, it is one of the most awaited public celebrations in Mumbai, entire Maharashtra, and also in many parts of India and even abroad.
The story of Lord Ganesha's birth
There are several versions to Lord Ganesha's birth. The legend says that just as Lord Shiva, father of Ganesha had a loyalist in bull god Nandi, Parvati wanted one she could say her own. Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesha out of turmeric paste and breathed life into him. Ganesha was then instructed to guard her door until she finished bathing. After Shiva had come out of his meditation, he wanted to go and see Parvati but found himself being stopped by this strange boy. Shiva tried to reason with him saying that he was Parvati's husband but the Ganesha did not listen and was determined to not let Shiva enter until his mother Parvati finished her bath. A fight ensued and Shiva severed the head of Ganesha with his Trishul (three-bladed spear, the weapon of Lord Shiva).
Hearing the commotion, Parvati came out and got furious when she saw Ganesha's severed head and decided to destroy the entire universe. By that time, even Shiva's anger had subsided and he promised Parvati that he will bring Ganesha back to life. He sent his Shiva-dutas out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature that lay dead with its head facing North. The lords went out in search but could only manage the head of an elephant. Shiva had no other option but to fix the elephant's head and bring Ganesha back to life.
Ganesha and the mouse. Pic/YouTube
Ganesha and the moon
Once Ganesha was invited for a feast at Kubera's (Lord of Wealth in Hindu mythology) place. After stuffing himself with his favourite food, the laddoo, he set out on his 'vahana' (vehicle), the tiny mouse. The rat could not bear his weight and tripped. Ganesha fell to the ground and his stomach broke open. He started to put the food back in his stomach. Seeing this, the moon could not control himself and began laughing. Ganesha got angry and cursed the moon saying that it will vanish from the universe. The moon god started pleading for mercy. Finally, Ganesha modified his curse saying that the moon would be invisible on only one day of a month and would be partially seen on Ganesha Chaturthi. He also added that anyone who watches the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi would face a false accusation. This is the reason why, even today, it is considered inauspicious to look at the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Sage Vyasa and Ganesha. Pic/YouTube
When Sage Vyasa wanted to write Mahabharata, he approached Lord Ganesha to help him write, Ganesha agreed to help with the work on one condition that Sage Vyasa had to recite the verses without pausing. If Sage Vyasa stopped, Ganesha would stop writing. Sage Vyasa accepted this condition and also placed a counter-condition. Sage Vyasa said that Ganesha will have to understand everything before writing. Whenever Vyasa would be tired from his continuous talking, he would simply recite a difficult verse which Ganesha could spend time understanding it. This way, the sage used to get some respite. The diction began and in the rush, Ganesha's feather pen broke. He broke off a tusk and used it as a pen so that the transcription could proceed. Ganesha and Sage Vyasa wrote the epic for 3 years.
Ganpati with Shiv and Parvati
Another myth says that Ganesha is worshipped first, which has come from a story of a race won by Ganesha against his brother Kartikeya. The siblings quarrelled among themselves and decided that Lord Shiva will be the judge on who will be worshipped first. Lord Shiva held a race stating that whoever will circle the universe first will be worshipped first. Kartikeya sat on his peacock and set out to circle the universe whereas Ganesha just circled around his parents - Lord Shiva and Parvati. Amused, Lord Shiva asked him the reason to which Ganesha replied that his parents were the universe for him. Hence, Shiva was pleased with his son's replay and he declared Lord Ganesha was the winner. Therefore in Hindu traditions, Ganesha is worshipped before every significant life event and ceremony.
Ganesha's large appetite
Once the treasurer of 'swarga' (paradise) and god of wealth, Kubera invited Lord Shiva to a feast in his city, Alakapuri, to show off his wealth. Shiva smiled and told him that cannot come but his son Ganesha can. However, Lord Shiva warned him that little Ganesha has a voracious appetite. Unperturbed, Kubera felt confident that he could satisfy even the most insatiable appetite, like that of Ganesha, with his opulence. He took the little son of Shiva with him to his city. At Alakapuri, Ganesha was a ceremonial bath and dressed him in sumptuous clothing. After these initial rites, the great banquet began. While the servants of Kubera kept bringing the food relentlessly, little Ganesha just continued to eat. His appetite did not decrease even after devouring servings which were destined for the other guests. Having devoured everything, Ganesha bellowed, 'food!' and demanded more. He told Kubera, "I am hungry. If you don't give me something else to eat, I will eat you as well!". Terrified, Kubera rushed to Mount Kailasa to ask Shiva to save him. The Lord then gave Ganesha a handful of roasted rice, saying that something as simple as a handful of roasted rice would satiate Ganesha if it were offered with humility and love. Kubera went home a wiser man.
No wonder Lord Ganesha is one of the most loved God of all and elaborate rituals are conducted to worship the deity.
The date of Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day of the waxing moon period (Shukla Chaturthi) in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. This is August or September each year. The festival is usually celebrated for 11 days, with the biggest spectacle taking place on the last day called Anant Chaturdashi. Throughout Ganesh Chaturthi, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganeshastotra from the Narada Purana are chanted. It is believed that reciting 108 names of Lord Ganesha during the festival brings good luck to the devotees. The popular sweet modak, believed to be Lord Ganesha's favourite food and hence during the Ganesha worship ceremony, the puja always concludes with an offering of twenty-one modaks to the deity and as prasad. Here are some rituals that are followed when the idol is brought at home or pandals
The arrival of the idol: The idols of Lord Ganesha when arrives at the public pandals or home is covered with a piece of cloth.
Adorning of the idol: The idol is safely placed on a pedestal and adorned flower garlands.
Pranapratishtha: With the chanting of sanctified mantras, it is believed that life is conjured into the clay idol.
Shhodashopachara: It is one of the four main rituals observed during Ganesh Chaturthi. Shhodashopachara means 16 ways of paying tribute to Lord Ganesha. This ritual requires betel leaf, betel nut, 21 blades of dhurva grass, 21 modaks, incense sticks, sandalwood paste, and cotton wicks, sindoor and camphor.
Chanting of Hymns: Ganesh Chaturthi rituals are performed accompanied by chanting of slokas and mantras from Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad and Rigveda. Along with this, Ganesha Stotra or devotional songs and slokas are sung and chanted.
Prasad and seeking blessings: Devotees offer fresh flowers prasad of laddus, pedas, panchamrut, modaks made up honey, ghee, milk, and curd to Lord Ganesha. Finally, the devotees seek the blessings and ask for forgiveness for any mistakes that might have occurred during rituals.
Visarjan: After days of worship of Lord Ganesha, the idol is taken to a holy river for immersion. With the immersion of the idol, the Ganesh Chaturthi rituals come to an end.
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