EYE ON FESTIVALS: GANESH CHATHURTHI
Friday August 25th in India and Thursday, August 24th in the US starts an auspicious Indian festival celebrating the birthday of Ganesh, the patron of Vedic astrology. Use this day to let go of the problems that have accumulated over the past year and symbolically let go of them, let go of any anger, negativity against others and ask Ganesha to carry them away with him and bless you with peace and happiness.
Ganesha, the remover of obstacles was born on the fourth tithi of the Shukla paksha of the new moon in the month of Bhadra. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Gauri and Ganapati was born of the four great elements, earth, water, fire and air and he represents the fifth element Aakash that protects the people with Aakash connected most to Jupiter.
There are many stories regarding the birth of Ganesha and how he came to have the elephant’s head. According to Varaha Purana, Shiva created him from his laughter. He was a beautiful boy, shining and luminous in the sky, just like Shiva. When Gauri, Shiva’s wife saw baby Ganesha, she forgot about Shiva. Shiva was so angry with his wife for ignoring him that he cursed this glorious child to have a face like an elephant with a protruding belly and a belt of snakes. His anger also created many Ganas in the image of Ganesha, who fell to earth. Each Gana was accomplished and bright. Gana means multitude, the public, and the followers. Ganas began disturbing the balance on earth so the Devas requested Brahma to get someone to control them. Brahma asked Shiva to make the elephant headed boy Ganapati, the leader of the ganas. Ganapati also got the blessing that his name will be invoked at the start of any prayer. He has the ability to control the masses and he helps them by clearing all obstacles in their path so that they can accomplish what they desire. Ganesha clears the way for the devotee getting his hearts desire – whether it is spiritual or material.
The celebrations of Ganesha Chathurthi lasts between four to 10 days with daily rituals and prayers to Ganesh. Often a clay Ganesh idol is made at the temple. Amid chanting of sacred hymns and elaborate floral decorations, the deity is honored and fed. If you have chosen to keep the idol at home for four days or ten days, then on the 5th or 11th day the idol is taken either to the sea or to the river amid great celebration. The 11th day is known as Ananda chaturdashi. The idol is immersed in the sea or rivers so that he can go back to his father Shiva on Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. During the stay of Ganesha in the homes, communities or temples, the devotee bring their sorrows and unhappiness to him. As the idol floats away, Ganesha takes away your problems and leaves you lighthearted and open to new experiences.
If you are attracted to Ganesh, you can celebrate by bringing flowers and sweets to your home and chanting the mantras to the image of Ganesha. It is a good idea to hold a satsang or a gathering of like minded people and share food and sweets with them. You can also make donation to the poor and needy on this day. If you do this Puja annually, you are getting more and more blessings from Ganesha and many sorrows will go away and the spiritual path ahead becomes clear and without obstacles.
Simple Ganesh mantras are Om Ganeshaya Namaha. and Om Ganapatayai Namaha.
This year’s holiday begins with the Saturn station. Some feel this is auspicious day for new beginnings and may represent a brief let up in the down pour of challenges from the Solar Eclipse, Mars ending in Cancer and Saturn station. Use this day to celebrate and let go of your negativity.
All thanks to Komilla Sutton and Wikipedia for their information on this holiday.