Ganesh Chaturthi, or Vinayaka Chaturthi, is the birthday of Vinayaka, the embodiment of Wisdom and Prosperity. Though His worship forms the most important aspect of one’s daily puja, His birthday, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated grandly with devotion and delight. This year, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. Ganesha is considered as the most endearing form of all Hindu deities. All Hindus worship Ganesha regardless of their sectarian belief, He is both the beginning of the religion and the meeting ground for all Hindus. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Devi being the other four) of the panchayatana puja (introduced by Adi Sankara). His benevolence is necessary for removing the obstacles as well as for the success of human pursuits. He is invoked at the commencement of all pujas and functions.
Significance of Ganesha Chaturthi
All Indian festivals, beneath the aspect of delight and celebration, hold the underlying essence or the spirit. The very story of Ganesha’s manifestation holds the essence of Advaita Vedanta. The celebration of Ganesha Chaturti reveals that while we worship the divine with the form, we ought to bear in mind the formless reality. This is depicted in the elaborate worship that is carried out on Ganesha Chaturti and finally dissolving the form that we endear in a water body in remembrance of the divine as the formless reality even beyond the manifested form. This is a reminder that we all are made up of the same, all pervading essence or the spirit though we may vary owing to the disparities in shape and form. He is the Lord who removes all obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon us worldly as well as spiritual success.
Significance of His name
Sage Vyasa worshipped Ganesa by reciting his sixteen names. They are: ‘Sumukhan, Ekadantan, Kapilan, Gajakarnan, Lambodaran, Vikatan, Vighnarajan, Vinayakan, Dhumaketu, Ganadhyakshan, Phalachandran, Gajanan, Vakratundan, Surpakarnan, Heramban, and Skandapurvajan.’
Aum & Muladhara Chakra
Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum (Tamil: ஓம், Sanskrit :ॐ) also spelled Om). The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form), when identified with Ganesha, refers to the notion that he personifies the primal sound. According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means “original, main”; adhara means “base, foundation”. The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests.
Significance of the Ganesha Form
The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He has four arms and with two of the hands he holds a noose and a goad. The two other hands display the Varada mudra and Abhaya mudra, which grants boons and dismisses fear from the devotee.
HEAD: Ganesha’s elephant head denotes wisdom and symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence.
EARS: His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our prayers.
BODY: His human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings.
TRUNK: His trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality.
GOAD on his right hand: In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way.
The NOOSE in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.
The BROKEN TUSK that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata.
The ROSARY in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous.
The KOZHAKATTAI (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of theAtman.
SNAKE: The snake that runs around his waist represents energy in all forms.
The MOUSE symbolizes the darkness of night or tamoguna/desire. Showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles)
There are a few legends attributed to the birth or rather the manifestation of Ganesha. However, there’s a popular story of his origin, found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana: Shiva asked Parvati to observe the punyaka vrata for a year to appease Vishnu in order to have a son. When a son was born to her, all the gods and goddesses assembled to rejoice on his birth. Lord Shani, the son of Surya (Sun-God), was also present but he refused to look at the infant. Perturbed at this behaviour, Parvati asked him the reason, and Shani replied that his looking at baby would harm the newborn. However, on Parvati’s insistence, when Shani eyed the baby, the child’s head was severed instantly. All the gods started to bemoan, whereupon Vishnu hurried to the bank of river Pushpabhadra and brought back the head of a young elephant, and joined it to the baby’s body, thus reviving it.
The story of the birth of this zoomorphic deity, as depicted in the Shiva Purana, goes like this: He was formed by Parvati from the material of her own body. She asked Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter while she had her bath. It is said that the steadfast Ganesha did not allow entry to Lord Shiva Himself. Shiva became angry and cut off Ganesha’s head as He thought Ganesha was an outsider. When Parvati came to know of this, she was sorely grieved.
Lord Shiva then ordered his Ganas to proceed westward and come with the head of anything that they happened to see first. It so happened, that it was an elephant and its head was fitted to the body of Parvati’s decapitated son. That is how he got the name Gajamukha. The purpose of birth of Lord Ganesh is to destroy the devil “Gajamugasuran”. Lord Shiva made His son worthy of worship at the beginning of all undertakings, marriages, expeditions, studies, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha should take place on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapada.
Ganesha Chaturthi Puja
Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated across the country across religion caste and creed. Lord Ganesha is invoked in a Kalash or an idol of the Lord is installed in the house. Clay figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, they are thrown into water.
Pooja is carried out with Vedic mantras, Homas, archana and offerings of His favourite Modhak, puffed rice, sweets and jaggery according to each one’s mode of worship. Some wind up the worship in a day or two while others carry it on for a week. On the final day of worship, the Ganesha statue made out of clay is dissolved in a water body or the water from the Kalash is also mixed in a water body.
He is very fond of sweet pudding or balls of rice flour with a sweet core. It’s called “Modhakas” or “Kozhakattais” in Tamil. While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra (Mumbai). Huge statues of Ganesha are made, decorated and worshipped for 10 days and finally given to the Ocean. The Ganapati Festival ends with the immersion (Visarjan) of the idol on Ananda Chaturdasi day – September 29, 2012.
Although this is a temple for Lord Shiva, Swetha Vinayakar is the important deity of Thiruvalanchuzhi. Legend has it that the Devas, forgot to worship Lord Ganesha before starting to churn the “Paarkadal” (Ksheera Saagaram). Hence, they were only able to get the Alakala Poison out of it. Indra, king of Devas, later realized that they were only able to get the poison because they had not worshipped Ganesha prior to starting their mission.
Lord Indra created this idol out of the foam (Kadal Nurai) generated from the milky ocean (Ksheera Saagaram) they had churned in their quest for the celestial nectar Amrudham. After they worshipped this idol made of foam (Nurai in Tamil), they were able to obtain the Amrudham from the Ocean. As the deity is made of the foam, there is no Abhishegam etc., performed here.
Sri Vellai Pillaiyar (Swetha Vinayakar or Nuraippillaiyaar) Temple is located in Thiruvalanchuzhi, a village located just 6 kilometers near Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu in India. Swetha Vinayakar, a white colored statue of Ganesha, is the deity of worship in this temple.
Shri Karpaga Vinayagar (Pillayarpatti)
Pillaiyar patti Pillaiyar temple is an ancient rock-cut cave shrine dedicated to Ganesha . The Agama texts found on stones in the temple help date the temple between the years 1091 and 1238.
This temple is the only one in Tamil Nadu which contains a 6 feet rock-cut Pillaiyar idol. The Vinayagar sannidhi (Sanctom Sanctorum) is a cave where the 6 feet of Karpaga Vinayagar has been carved inside. Lord Karpaga Vinayagar is seated facing northern side.
Scholars say that Lord Vinayaga is the Lord of wisdom, which is confirmed by the head of elephant in the shape of sacred mantram “OM”. When we draw a line from the broken left tusk, starting upward, then turning left towards right ear and after passing through the bended left tusk up to the tip of trunk, Tamil alphabet “O” appears. The Lingam in the hand indicates the alphabet “M”. Together they form “OM”. This is confirmed by the lord here “Valamburi Pillayar”. As Vinayagar satisfies the wishes of his devotees like Karpagam tree, he is also known “Karpaga Vinayagar”.
Here Lord Vinayaga appears with 2 hands unlike in other places where he is seen with 4 hands. Also he is seen seated without Angusapasam, with his legs folded and stomach not touching the Asanam in the form of “Artha Padma” Asanam.
Vinayagar Chathurthi is the very important festival in this temple. It is 10 days festival. Kappaukkattutual and hoisting temple flag begin before 9 days. At the 9 th day car festival and much celebrated decoration of sandal covering ( Santha-na-kkappu) to Pillaiyar takes place
Meenakshi Amman Temple
In Meenakshi Amman Temple, this festival is devoted to “Mukkuruni Vinayagar”. Mukkuruni means three times of six. This idol was recovered while the King Tirumalai Nayacker digged the land for constructing a tank which is popularly known as “Mariamman Tank” now. On the day of Ganesh Chathurthi, the Meenakshi Amman Temple devotees offer a huge kozhukattai to Mukkuruni Vinayagar.
As its name implies, the kozhukattai is prepared with the 3*6 times i.e. 18kg of rice.