Ganesh ChaturthiGanesh Chaturthi
by Vedic Pandit Gaurav Dwivedi
Ganesh Chaturthi is an annual Hindu festival celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha(1) , in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. Ganesh Chaturthi usually falls in either the western calendar months of August or September. On Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the god of Wisdom, Prosperity and Good Fortune.
The Ganeshotsav, the festivial of Ganesh Chaturthi, starts on the fourth day of the waxing moon (Shukla Paksha) and usually lasts for 10 days. The festival ends on Anant Chaturdashi (the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period) which is also known as Ganesh Visarjan Day. On Anant Chaturdashi devotees immerse the idol of Lord Ganesh in a body of water after a gala street procession and celebration.
Vedic astrology suggests that a Ganesh Puja is best done during Madhyahna, which is midday according to the Hindu division of the day, as it is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Madhyahna Kala. It is written that one should avoid the moon or Chandra(2) on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Lord Ganesha is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu religion and is also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka. Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the brother of Lord Kartikeya. As per the Shiva Purana, Lord Ganesha had two sons who were named Shubh and Labh. Shubh and Labh are personifications of auspiciousness and profit respectively. Shubh was the son of Goddess Riddhi and Labh was the son of Goddess Siddhi.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is the embodiment of three virtues, namely Buddhi, Siddhi and Riddhi which are known as Wisdom, Spirituality and Prosperity. Lord Ganesha is the personification of Buddhi Himself. The other two virtues are personified as Goddesses and are considered to be the consorts of Lord Ganesha and many paintings show Ganesha flanked by Riddhi and Siddhi. It is believed that Riddhi and Siddhi were daughters of Lord Brahma who himself conducted the Wedding Ceremony of Lord Ganesha. According to some sources, Shri Ganesha is an unmarried Brahmachari(3) . However, the Mudgala and Shiva Puranas are considered to be the authorities on the marital status of Lord Ganesha and both these Puranas talk about the marital life of Lord Ganesha.
In the Mudugal Purana(4) there are Eight Incarnations of Lord Ganesha, the most famously known is Ashta Vinayaka and Lord Ganesha is also worshipped in thirty-two different forms. However, Lord Ganesha is most widely known as the “Elephant God” and represented with a human body and having an elephant head. The elephant head of Lord Ganesha represents strength and the ability to overcome or remove obstacles. This is an important part of Worship, as Prayers to Ganesha are done first, before other Worship or prayers, to remove any negativity as well as any obstacles in one’s life and grant Spiritual Blessings.
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(1) A paksha is the period in a calendar month that is on either side of the full moon (Purnima). Shukla Paksha is the period of the new or “waxing” moon and the “waning” moon after Purnima (full moon day) is called Krishna Paksha.
(2) In the Vedas Chandra is the lunar God or deity. In the Puranas it is written that Chandra had been cursed by Lord Ganesha long ago after a squabble and, for one night a year on Ganesh's birthday, it is unlucky to look at the moon (Chandra) because doing so can bring misfortune during the coming year.
(3) Brahmachari, one who is observing brahmacharya is called a brahmachari. Brahma: the Creative Force, or God, and Charya: observance or restraint. Brahmacharya implies, but does not necessitate, a renouncing of sex and marriage or "worldliness".
(4) The Puranas are ancient Hindu texts eulogizing various deities, primarily the divine Trimurti God in Hinduism through divine stories. The Mudugal Purana is dedicated to Ganesha and is one of only two Puranas that are exclusively dedicated to Ganesha; the other is the Ganesha Purana.