Here is my first article on an Indian festival. What would be a better way to start but write about my favorite god Ganesha who is always considered auspicious for any beginning! Any Hindu house or any Indian house no matter what religion you are born in, if you like Ganesha, he is always sitting at the entrance of the office or a house, as he is considered auspicious. Symbolically, he signifies knowledge and therefore he is always first as without wisdom whatever one begins is futile isn’t it?
As a child we use to look forward to the festival dedicated to him. It is celebrated sometime in August and September depending on the lunar calendar. It starts on the 4th day of lunar month of Bhadrapad. And ends on the fourteenth day, which is called Anand Chaturdashi. Prominently in the western part of India, this is celebrated, especially in the commercial capital; Mumbai where one can feel the throbbing energy. The clay murti or icon is brought home. It is inviting the lord and family and friends are also invited to take blessings of the revered deity. He is adorned with flowers, sweets and a small ritual done and songs of his glory are sung together till he is immersed in the water body close by, which is considered returning to his abode. The belief is that during these ten days he comes to the houses of people and blesses them. Mumbai is an island city therefore the immersion takes place in the Arabian Sea and the city that is always alive is throbbing with energy. The processions begin in the early hours and last for almost the early hours of the next day! There is music dance and crazy congregation of on the streets on last day. There are various art competitions and prices are announced. Of course with various downsides too however, the loud speakers are given leverage till mid night. But we enjoy it to the fullest.
One doting question I am almost always asked is ‘why symbolism’? Why so many gods? Why does he have an elephant head?
So why does he have an elephant head. I wont get in to long story here as it almost known to all. He is a son of Shiva and Parvati, the destroyer and the powerful of the Hindu trinity. His father Shiva slays his head as he doesn’t allow him to enter the house and later his mother requests him to give him life again. Parvati wanted a son with the ultimate wisdom but wisdom that comes with ego is useless and the story signifies this truth. Shiva slays his son’s ego and he gives him a new life and a head of an animal. Elephant head is also an artists imagination and I wonder which other animal could signify big and cool head better than the elephant.