“Ganpati bappa moray.. mangal murti morya..” the chants are repeatedly heard all over. Or you will probably get to hear Bollywood tracks like “tujhko phir se jalwa dikhana hi hoga… agle barsaana hai aana hi hoga… mauriya mauriya…” or “deva shri ganesha… deva shri ganesha…” from Amitabh bachchan’s remade movies. One cannot miss view of such a spectacular crowd around huge ganapathi idol, with great enthusiasm, after around a week of ganesh chaturthi if you are in city like Mumbai. The crowd is most expectedly moving towards Arabian Sea to immerse the idol of Lord Ganesha. But what exactly it is, one might wonder. To explain in simple words, the festival marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha; the Lord of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
Ganesh, the deity of Knowledge is invoked at the commencement of any function. He is the god that protects his devotees from any obstacles (vighnam). Hence he is aliased as Vighneswara. He is also described as the Supreme Leader (Vinayaka). As Heramba, he removes obstacles. As Lambodara, He protects all worlds. As Surpa Karna, He shows compassion by giving the highest knowledge. All these are just few of names for Lord Vinayaka, who is the Lord of all. Legend has it that Ganapathy himself wrote the Mahabharata, to the dictation of Guru Veda Vyasa, losing one of his tusk and since then he is called Ekadanta and he is also considered the most intelligent.
This elephant-headed god, whose vehicle is the Mooshak (rat) and who loves Modaks (droplet shaped Indian sweet) is worshipped as Mahabini in Borneo, Totkar in Mongolia, Tchoprak in Tibet, Brahganesh in Cambodia, Kwanshidiyik in China, and Vinayaksha in Japan. Vaishnavites call him Vishwak Sena. There is a rock cut temple in King-Hsein in China for him. With five faces he is worshipped in Nepal. In a Yogic pose of meditation he attracts the people of Java. He can truly be said to be India’s international God..!!
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the god of wisdom and prosperity on the fourth day of the moons bright fortnight, or period from new moon in the lunar month of Bhadrapada, 6th month in hindu calendar. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi continues for five, seven, or ten days, which happens to be anant chaturdasi, the 14th day of bhadrapada month of shukla paksham.
We have a lot of other hindu festivals widely being celebrated in India, like dussehra and deepawali, which are being celebrated since ages! Dussehra celebrates the Hindu god Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana and the triumph of good over evil and thus the festival is being celebrated since late treta yug. Diwali celebrates the return of Rama and Sita, in the story from the Ramayana, also to celebrate victory of lord Krishna over ogre Narakasura. Diwali is being celebrated since resolution of dwapara yug. But this ‘tradition’ of immersing ganesh idols succeeding the and its popularity has only grown in recent times.
The procession to immerse Ganesha idols/images on Ganesh Chaturthi finds its links with Indian Freedom Struggle. Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak started Ganpati Visarjan procession in 1893 and used it as a platform to penetrate awareness about the freedom movement among the mass of India. Ganesh Puja was prevalent in Maharashtra since the ancient times, though.
But unknowingly we have somehow ignored its impact on environment. We mostly worship idols made of plaster of Paris, which doesn’t dissolve easily in water. Also it reduces oxygen level in water, killing aquatic organisms. Also the chemicals in paints used for decorating the idol affect the water used for drinking from the river where the idols are immersed.
The purpose of celebrating Shree Ganesh Chaturthi is to express our gratitude unto Shree Ganesh. Instead, many people celebrate this festival just as a family custom or as a social event. The immersion of incorrectly made Shree Ganesh idol not only pollutes the physical surroundings, but also the spiritual environment.
In Hindu Dharma, every aspect of our day to day life has spiritual significance. All the festivals are celebrated for the purpose of remembering God, attracting the goodness, developing devotion unto God, etc. We can derive the spiritual benefits only if these festivals are celebrated according to the spiritual science.