Sonia Sumitra Thakar
Word Count: 618
The fourth day of the Bhadrapada month is celebrated as the birth anniversary of one of Hinduism’s most loved gods, Lord Ganesha. Ganesha or Vinayaka is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is the god of wisdom, prosperity, good fortune, and of new beginnings.
Ganesh Chaturthi is much awaited by Hindus throughout the world with joyful anticipation and is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm. This festival, with elaborate decorations, lip-smacking sweets, loud and splendorous musical and dance offerings, brings together communities and propagates the feeling of oneness amongst not just devotees of Lord Ganesha but just about everyone around.
A clay idol of Ganesh is installed in the home or community, in a beautifully decorated pandal. Pooja is done twice a day, zealous bhajans are sung, elaborate aartis are performed, delicacies like modaks and ladoos are offered and the general mood is festive and gay. The festival lasts from 1 to 11 days depending on the household or community and culminates in a ceremonial procession on the last day to immerse the idol in water. Evoking the kind of emotion that one would feel when saying good bye to a beloved family member, Lord Ganesha is bid adieu, amidst high energy chants and singing. The festivities leave one energized and rejuvenated, immensely grateful for the bountiful blessings received and hopeful of an obstacle-free year.
Many different traditions are followed while worshipping Lord Ganesha. Depending on the geographical region, family or community customs and one’s faith, specific prayers and procedures take precedence. One common belief is that looking at the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi night brings one misfortune and makes one a victim of false accusations. The story behind this belief is an interesting one.
Ganesha and the Moon
Once Ganesha was invited for a grand feast. Being very fond of food, he liberally over-ate all the wonderful delicacies offered to him especially a mountain of his favourite ladoos. In fact, he overate so much that his belly protruded out more than usual. When he was returning home sitting on his vehicle, the little mouse, his stomach suddenly burst open and a whole lot of ladoos rolled out. He quickly picked them up, stuffed them back in his tummy and tied a snake around his belly to keep them in. The moon, on seeing this strange and comical spectacle, burst into peals of laughter. An enraged Ganesha took offence at the vain and proud moon making fun of him and cursed him that he would disappear from the world. A repentant moon accepted his mistake and begged Ganesha to absolve him of the curse. But even the gods cannot take back their word, once given! Seeing that the moon truly was sorry and persuaded by the other gods, he toned down his curse. He said that those who looked at the moon on the fourth day of the Bhadrapada month would face the curse of Mithya Dosha or false accusations and unjustified criticism.
Interestingly, the puranas speak of how even Lord Krishna was not spared the curse of Mithya Dosha for inadvertently seeing the reflection of the moon in a pot of milk on Ganesh Chaturthi day. Lord Krishna was wrongly accused of stealing a precious jewel, the Syamantaka, by the nobleman Satrajit. However, as advised by Sage Narada, he overcame this Dosha by keeping fast on Ganesh Chaturthi. Isn’t it curious that even the gods are subject to the dharma of mortals when they take birth in human form?!
This Ganesha festival, bring home the Shree Ganesha Nitya Aaradhana—a compilation of the most powerful mantras and beautiful prayers dedicated the elephant god. Chant the glory of Siddhi Vinayaka to bring wisdom, auspiciousness and prosperity into your life.