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Author Topic: EDITORIAL Shri Ganesh  (Read 9624 times)

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Offline JR

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« on: February 19, 2007, 08:22:16 AM »
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  • On tne 19th of this month we shall be celebrating the Ganesh chaturthi. In Maharashtra and wherever the people from Maharashtra are staying, the usual slogan "Ganapati Bappa Moraya" will be heard very often round about this time. This day is celebrated on the forth day of the bright half of the month of Bhadrapad every year.

    Other gods like Vishnu, Rama, Krishna etc. are very attractive in their form. They have got proportionate bodies and they are dressed with costly silk garments, while Ganesh or Ganapati has a protruding belly and his head is not that of a man but of an elephant Though this god has a disproportionate body and the mouth of an elephant, still he is the most revered God Every religious ceremony starts with his worship. In fact the education of a child used to start in old days after paying homage to Ganapati, as the child was first taught to read and write the letters: “Sri Ganeshayanamaha”.

    In the Puranas there are a number of stories narrating the birth of Ganapati, which indicate how this God came to posses this head of an elephant. One of those stories runs as follows ;-

    Once Parvati, the wife of God Shankara, was taking a bath. As she wanted someone to guard the door of her bathroom, she fabricated a human form from her body and placed him at the door of her bathroom as a watchman. She gave him a strict warning not to allow anybody to come inside.   In the meantime Lord Shankar came and wanted to enter into Parvatt's apartment; but this watchman vehemently  objected to that not knowing who the visitor was  Lord Shankar got angry and with his weapon he cut the head of the watchman.  When Parvati came to know about this, she started lamenting for the death of her son.   Looking to this plight of Parvati, Shankar took pity on her and placed the head of an Elephant, which wasavai-lable nearby, on the body of the watchman, killed by him and brought him to life. Thus Shri Ganesh was born. Later on he was placed at the head of a group and hence he came to be also known as Ganapati (The leader of a group).

    In Maharashtra there is a custom of bringing an idol of earth every year and worshipping it for one and a half days, five days, seven days or ten days according to everybody's convenience. Along with this festival, there is a custom of celebrating the Gauri Pujan. Gauri is another name for Parvati, the mother of Ganapati. This Gauri is brought after the third or the fourth day from Ganesh chaturthi and is immersed within three or four days. This festival of Gauri is given a great importance, almost equal to that of the Hoii festival, by the people of the non-brahmin community in the Ratnagiri and Coloba districts. Most of the people who are working in the cities make it a point to go to their remote villages for this festival During this festival the monsoon is almost coming to an end and hence the expectation of a good crop makes the farmers celebrate this festival on a grand scale.

    This festival is celebrated as a religious function in most of the houses in Maharashtra. The idol is usually brought home on the day previous to the Ganesh Chattirthi or in the morning of Ganesh Chaturthi. After the Pooja and Arati are over, the whole day is spent in the company of the family members and friends in chit chating and feasting. As most of tbe Ganapaties in the private houses are of the duration of one and a half days the Ganesh Ghaturthi day is important for all of them and most of the people have to visit a number of houses on that day for taking "darshan" of the Ganapaties.

    The second day is the day of immersion for nearly seventy to eighty percent of the Ganapaties, In the afternoon you can see long processions going to the places of immersion of the town or village as the case may be. Similar processions are also to be seen on other days of immersion.

    Lokmanya Tilak was a man of wide vision.    He had to consolidate the strength of the masses towards national work.    He knew that religious and such other functions could be made use of for this purpose.    He therefore started holding public performance of the Ganesh utsav and the Shiv Jayanti utsav.    This enabled him to carry out lot of propaganda regarding Swarajya in these festivals as the Ganesh utsav used to last for ten days every year.    In the days of Lokmanya Tilak this festival had a crowded programme of lectures, keertans and "melas" all aiming at social and political uplift of India, the ultimate goal of which was to obtain independence.

    The public performance  of this festival once caused a great awakening in Maharashtra.    It also helped the consolidation of the Hindus against the Muslim agression, which was taking place at seve¬ral places in some form or the other.    The day of immersion of these public festival Ganapaties saw mile long processions of these idols accompanied by "Lezim", band and such other musical instruments.    The sudden turn that Lokmanya Tilak gave to this religious function and made use of it towards achievement of his goal of swa-rajya, really goes to show his knowledge of mass psychology and tact.

    After the death of Lokmanya Tilak, the importance of this festival had started dwindling and after independence it took the form of a festival for mere entertainment. The artists who prepared the idols of Ganapati wanted to show their ingenuity and the idols of Ganapaties are being prepared according to the changing fashions of the time. Some are apt to depict mythological scenes while a few others used to throw light on certain political situations through their art. The ever increasing costs have also had effect on the cost of the idols and they have gone up considerably during the last two decades.

    At present the worship of Ganapati is confined to India and it is done only by the Hindus. Though in all the cities and towns of India there is, as a rule, at least one temple of Ganapati, though not more, still only eight temples of Ganapati in Maharashtra are called to be specially sacred. They are called "Ashtavinayak" (Eight Ganapaties) and special tours are conducted for paying visit to all these temples in series. This pilgrimage is supposed to acrue lot of merit to the pilgrims visiting all these Ganapaties.

    In the middle ages the Hindu empires were spreading far and wide in Asia and at that time the Hindus, who went to far East and the South East Asian countries Like Java, Sumatra, Combodia, Malayasia, China and Japan, carried along with them their gods and there¬fore the idols of Ganapati have been found in all those countries. It is also a wonder how one idol was found in a far off country like Mexico. In all the South East Asain countries the Hindu culture thrived for a number of centuries and a part of it was first wiped out by the Buddhist Religion and later on by the Muhomadan religion. Still the remnants that can be seen, give a rough idea how widely the Hindu culture must have thrived and ruled these countries.

    Shri Sai Baba had very liberal views about religion. He.always insited on every body to follow his religion, which he was professing before meeting him. He never directed anybody to leave his religion and get converted to another. Therefore we Sai devotees, who have deep reverance for Sai Baba, can also go on worshipping some other gods. Hence those, who are worshipping Shri Ganesh at their houses, should do so without any reservation and with full faith in Shri Ganesh. They may also celebrate this festival as a social function? because if we look at the whole life of Shri Sai Baba, he was never averse to worldly life. He never adviced people to renounce their normal life and lead the life of an ascetic. He on the other band started functions like the Ramnavami, Gokul Ashtami etc at shirdi. Let us therefore give the slogan.
    "Ganapati Bappa Moraya" and welcome Shri Ganesh.
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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