Ganesha, Ganapathi, and Pulaiyar are various names for one of the most cherished gods. Ganesha’s popularity and fame are universal. Ganesha is worshiped by all religions. The universe is a cosmic machine, according to Hindu texts, and the various Gods described in the Vedas are likened to administrators of said machine. Each deity represents some aspect of life.
Ganesha is prominently known as the remover of obstacles and is worshiped. Before starting any venture. He also removes barriers on the soul’s spiritual journey and, therefore, is prayed to by aspiring transcendentalists worldwide.
Ganesha is also known as the guardian of esoteric knowledge and is considered the presiding deity of astrology. Practitioners of the Vedic science believe he controls the planets which affect the karma and destiny of each soul. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati, and the story of how he acquired an elephant head is well known. Parvati had used her sacred turmeric, and a little clay near her feet to carve out a little son, energizing it with her divine energy. Shiva after chopping Ganesha’s head following the confrontation with his son Ganesha, replaced it with an elephant’s head. Ganesha endeared himself to everyone from all three worlds. Ganesh Chaturthi heralds his birth, and because he was molded with clay and turmeric, symbolically, even today Ganesh statues are molded with clay. One worships him for ten days and then immerses him in a holy river or sea where he will join his mother, who is sitting underwater in meditation. The Visarjan or immersion is done to symbolize the concept of moksha” absolute unchanging’ that is why we create Ganesha out of clay, worship it, and later submerge it in water, to be one with divine consciousness. This in a way, signifies human birth, and moksha too. Parvati had already blessed Ganesha when he was born, that no worship or endeavour would be successful till Ganesh was worshiped first. The immersion of Ganesha also signifies the destruction of all obstacles and impediments faced by the worshiper. Known for his wisdom and intelligence, he helped Vyasadeva, as a scribe, to complete the Indian Epic Mahabharata. Ganesha also loved food and according to legends, could consume endless quantities of ladoos and a special sweet similar to the Modak made by Parvati.
In 1893 Tilak introduced India to Ganpati Pooja and Visarjan, as a community function, to unite Indians, from all walks of life, to strengthen them spiritually and internally to fight for their freedom from the British. When the tradition of Ganesh puja transpired it emanated the cooking of various delicacies which were the favorite of Lord Ganesh. Foremost was the Modak, which was a sweet dumpling shaped with a small trunk? The origin of Modak is thought to have originated in the state of Maharashtra. Modak is known by many names throughout India Viz… Mothagam or Kozhukattai in Tamil, Modhaka or Kadubu in Kannada, and Kudumu in Telugu, state-wise.Modak is considered to be the favorite sweet of the Hindu deity Ganesha. From it emerges the word Modakapriya [one who likes modak] in Sanskrit. Modak means” a small part of bliss” and it symbolizes spiritual knowledge…According to culinary historian Darra Goldstein, Modaka is an ancient sweet that dates back to around 200 BC. An early mention of Modakas is found in Ayurveda, Ramayana, and Mahabharata, where it is described as dumpling confectionery with sweet stuffing. Sangam literature similarly mentions Modakas as rice dumplings filled with sweet stuffing and was also sold by street vendors, in the ancient city of Madurai during Pandiyan Raj. The medieval Manasollasa culinary text mentions Modaka as prepared with rice flour, sweet stuffings with some aromatic spices such as cardamom and camphor were called Varsopalagolakas because they resembled hailstones. Another version states that in the 16th century a staunch devotee priest, of a small Ganesh temple in Pune, created a sweet with a small trunk, and a shell shaped like the body of Ganesh, with sweet filling, symbolizing the divine love Ganesh exudes, and it was named Modak. Modak became Kokkatai in south India. Tilak’s call for all India Ganesh puja became a yearly affair. It is the most widely celebrated public festival in many parts of India, like Durga puja in Bengal.
Ganesha form and sacred symbols have a deeper meaning.Many see the union of Ganesha’s body and elephant head as a representation of how the spirit should live in harmony with nature. His large elephant head is also an embodiment of wisdom, and understanding. His round belly can be seen as the cosmos, while the snake around his waist is the energy that holds the cosmos together. The mouse he rides is like a wandering mind that can be controlled under the weight of knowledge. He has four hands – one with an axe to cut off attachments, one with a rope to pull a person towards the highest goal, one with a sweet to reward those who live a life of spiritual discipline and bless them.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in every home in the globe, where Ganesha is revered. Our celebrities have their own unique way of celebrating the festival. While Bollywood is the epitome of grandeur, with several Ganesh mandals, and Actors like Amitabh and Jeetendra endorse their own Ganesh mandals. One can spot many Bollywood Stars, visiting the different mandals. In the South, actress Revathy is an avid collector of Ganeshas, and for her the festival means time spent with her daughter, worshiping a handmade Ganesha, and getting to eat the delicious Kolukattai, made by her mother. Actors Sairam and Abhijit from the Tamil TV industry, associate this festival with delicacies, family get-togethers, and community worship in their areas. Ashwini Nachappa, the” Flo Jo “of our Olympic Team in the past, celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi with all her school staff and students. Bhajans, Aartis, and the Modak play an important part. People are becoming more and more aware of the materials utilized to create the Ganesha. Clay has been widely accepted along with environment-friendly materials.
Ganesh Chaturthi is indeed one festival that unites the whole of India, Lokmanya Tilak through this festival, and indeed achieved unity amongst Indians, to break caste barriers and fight for a common cause -freedom for India. Ganesh Chaturthi since then has been a celebration of the whole community, not just a personal worship. Wishing all readers a happy Ganesh Chaturthi.