by Vishaal S Shah
on Sep 21st, 2007

The Lord of Good Times!

Copyright by PHI/Photograph submitted by Jyoti BhandariHe is cute, has chubby cheeks, big ears and is really mischievous. He is known for his intellect and is fêted for warding off obstacles. No, I am not talking about the blue eyed sunny boy in your neighborhood. I am talking about Lord Ganesha – the elephant God. Worshiped by more than 100 million devotees in India and abroad, He is as cute and lovable as the Gods can get.

Of the various legends associated with Lord Ganesha, the most popularly accepted version says that Ganapati, as he is fondly called, (It means “the common man’s God”) was created by Goddess Parvati (wife of Lord Shiva) because she needed someone to guard the house while she took a bath. However, Lord Shiva happened to come there. Ganesha didn’t recognize him and hence didn’t allow him to enter. Enraged and upset, Lord Shiva beheaded Ganesha. Later when he realized that he had beheaded his own son, Lord Shiva fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha’s head. That’s how Lord Ganesha acquired the image of the elephant-headed God.

Ganesh Chaturthi is Lord Ganesha’s birthday. The festival was revived by Lokmanya Tilak (a freedom fighter) to spread the message of unity and to defy the colonists who had banned public assemblies. The festival kindled a feeling of togetherness and formed a background for the political leaders who inspired people to fight for independence.

Sixty years hence, Ganesh Utsav is still celebrated with unmatched zest and vigor. Infact the preparations begin months in advance. The 11-day festival begins with the installation of beautifully sculpted Ganesha idols in homes and mandaps (large tent setups). Colorfully decorated and depicting religious themes or current events, these setups are a visual treat. Many cultural events are organized and people participate with a lot of enthusiasm and passion. After ten days of music, dance, fasting and feasting, people bid farewell to the Lord and take the idols for immersion in the waters. Emotions run high as people chant praises of the Lord.

Ganesh Utsav mirrors the soul of India. Every year this festival manages to rouse emotions and brings about an inexplicable sense of togetherness. There are instances wherein Muslim and Christian families celebrate this festival with an unheard of faith and fervor. Eagerly awaited every year, this festival has become an intrinsic part in the life of Indians.

Ganesha touches western shores:

Some interesting photos from PHIans:

Copyright by PHI/Photograph submitted by PHIan Smita

Copyright by PHI/Photograph submitted by PHIan Smita

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