Idol and its significance
Traditional stories state that Lord Ganesha was the son of Goddess Parvati, who is Lord Shiva’s consort. Parvati breathed life into Vinayaka by using sandalwood paste. Legends elaborate that Ganpati refused entry to Lord Shiva inside the premises where Parvati was staying. This infuriated Shiva and what followed was a battle between Ganapati and Shiva’s followers. Ganesha defeated every Ganas of Shiva as he is Shakti’s incarnation. Even after Saptarshis and Narada had failed to appease the child, Lord Indra with his army waged war against Ganapati, who were promptly defeated. This further angered Shiva, who in a fit of rage, severed Ganesha’s head. However, this angered Parvati and to appease her, Shiva assured that Ganesha will be alive. The devas found a dead elephant’s head that was then fixed on Ganapati’s body. Shiva announced that the child would be known as Ganesha, which means Lord of Ganas.
Interesting customs and rituals
Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth fortnight of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. Devotees celebrate rituals for five to ten days with zeal. Submerging of clay idols of Ganesha takes place on the tenth day. By submerging idols in water, people believe that Ganapati will take away every distress and sorrow along with him. Preparation begins almost two months prior to the festival. Skilled craftsmen create lifelike idols of Ganapati in various poses and forms. Before the official puja day, houses must be thoroughly cleaned. You can decorate the Ganesh mandap or pandal with colorful flowers and coconut or banana leaves. This is followed by establishing the idol or Murthi Sthaapna. Installing the idols must take place at an appropriate time, after which priests perform various rituals.
Ways of Worshipping Ganesha
Ganesha Murti is decorated with beautiful flowers and sandalwood paste. Priests then place a Kalash that contains rice or holy water, in front of the statue. This is known as Purna Kumbha. It is said that when priests conduct various customs, it fills the statue with life. Invoking idols with the presence of the Lord is known as Pranpratishhtha. Worshippers then sip holy water and perform pranayama. Priests conduct Ganapati Aarti, and devotees chant various hymns and incantations. Rituals comprise of a sixteen-fold praying custom that is the Shodashopachara. It entails Aavaahana which means inviting the Lord. Asana Samarpana means offering a seat to the guests. Paadya denotes washing Lord Ganesha’s feet. Argha signifies washing your hands. Aachamana means consuming three gulps of water for smoothing your speech faculties. Madhuparka is about offering something to drink to the Lord. Snaana signifies bathing the clay idols with ghee, curd, and milk. Upaveeta or Vastra means offering new garments to Ganapati. Gandha denotes applying sandalwood paste on the idols forehead, as per tradition. Pushpa signifies offering of flowers which is then followed by lighting of Dhoopa. Acknowledging Ganapati in the form of light is done by lighting of Deepa or oil lamps. Naivedya is the ritual of presenting different delicacies to Lord Ganesha. Taamblooa signifies chewing of betel leaves along with various herbs. Then follows the Aarti where priests light camphor lit diyas to the Lord. Mantrapushpa signifies chanting different hymns and mantras along with performing Pradakshina. It implies the presence of Lord Ganesha in every corner and direction. After completion of Shodashopachara, Aarti is performed by reciting hundred and eight names of Vinayaka while chanting Ganesha mantras. Priests perform this Aarti twice a day for invoking Lord Vinayaka. On the final day, Ganapati Visarjan takes place with an immersion of idols in the river. Immersion of idols is accompanied by loud chanting and cheering of Ganapati Bappa Morya..
Incantation of mantras
Ganapativighnarajo lambatundo gajananah Dvaimaturasca heramba ekadanto ganadhipah. Vinayakascarukarnan pasupalo bhavatmajaah. Dvadasaitani namani pratarut thaya yah pathet. Visvam tasya bhavedvasyam na cha vighnam bhavet kvacit.
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