Ganpati festivities are about to kickstart and so in.com brings to you some interesting facts about Lord Ganesh and the festival...
Stories say that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then sent him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva returned and as Ganesha didn't know him and so didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became angry severed the head of the child and entered his house. Upon realisingthat he had beheaded his own son, Lord Shiva affixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha's head.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesh is considered as “Vigana Harta” (one who removes obstacles) and “Buddhi Pradaayaka” (one who grants intelligence). This festival is very important for students who appeal to Lord Ganesh to sharpen their minds.
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler, to promote culture and nationalism.
In 1893, freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual festival into a large, well-organized public event. He recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesh as "the god for everybody" and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order to generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule.
Fables say that on a chaturthi moon day, the lord of the stars happened to make fun of Ganesh for his bulging belly and laughed at him. Ganesh got angry and placed a curse on whoever looked at him knowingly or unknowingly on the night of Shukla paksha chaturthi day. The curse would attract scandals and unfounded allegations. Hence, the legend goes that one shouldn't look at the moon on the night of Ganesh chaturthi.
Ganesh figures with only two hands are taboo. Hence, Ganesha idols are most commonly seen with four hands, which signify their divinity. Some figures may be seen with six, eight, ten, twelve and some with fourteen hands, with each one carrying a different symbol. There are about 57 symbols in all, according to the findings of research scholars.
The physical attributes of Ganesh are rich in symbolism. He is normally shown with one hand in the abhaya pose of protection and refuge and the second holding a sweet (modak), symbolic of the sweetness of the realized inner self. In the two hands behind him, he often holds an ankusha (elephant goad) and a pasha (noose). The noose is to convey that worldly attachments and desires are a noose. The goal is to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth. With this goal, Ganesh can both strike and repel obstacles. His pot belly signifies the bounty of nature and also that Ganesh swallows the sorrows of the Universe and protects the world.
Ganesh is supposed to ride on a little mouse, that represents our wandering, wayward mind, lured to undesirable or corrupting grounds. By showing the mouse paying subservience to Lord Ganesha, it is implied that the intellect has been tamed through Ganesha's power of discrimination.
Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai is one of the most popular Ganesh mandals. During the Ganesh festival, it draws an average of 1.5 million people a day! People believe that this Ganesh idol can fulfill their wishes.
In 2010, two idols from Vishakhapatnam were measured at 76 feet tall. The Ganeshas were made out of soil imported from West Bengal. However, they were too big to be immersed. Instead, they had to be doused with hoses during immersion time.
ALSO SEE: Devotees prepare for Ganesh Chaturthi
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