This festival is celebrated on Bhadarva Sud 4th
Once Lord Shiva left his usual dwelling on Mt.Kailas in the Himalayas,
to meditate in one of the caves in the same mountain. Two friends of
Parvati, his consort, suggested that she should have a 'gana' - attendant
of their own, since they were not too happy with Shivaji's 'ganas'.
Parvati agreed. Soon after, using her divine powers, she created a son,
naming him Vinayak. She instructed him to guard their home.
When Shivaji returned Vinayak prevented him from entering. After some
bickering, Shivaji beheaded Vinayak with his 'trishul' (trident). When
Parvati heard of this she lamented intensely. Shivaji realised his error.
To set things right he sent his men to the forest to fetch the head
of the first living thing they met. They encountered a baby elephant
and returned with its head. With his divine power, Shivaji placed the
head over his son's body. Instantly Vinayak sprung to life. Henceforth
Vinayak also earned the name of Gajaanan. 'Gaja' means elephant. Shivaji
blessed him with a boon that people would first worship and offer him
dedication in all their auspicious activities. Those who didn't would
not attain success.
Bhadarva Sud 4th is the day Parvati was offering the final pujan to
the dead Ganeshji, when he resurrected.
Ganapati Vivaha (Marriage)
When Shiva and Parvati decided to have their sons, Kartikeya and Ganesh
married, they stipulated that he who circumambulated the earth first
would be considered the best deity and would be married first. Kartikeya
flew off on his vehicle - a peacock. Poor Ganapati's vehicle was a mouse
which was no match for a peacock. Being the choicest devotee of God,
Parvatiji consoling him showed Ganeshji a simpler and quicker way. She
advised him to cicumambulate the cow since she also symbolically represents
another earth and he had reap the same benefit as going round the earth.
Another reference cites him circumambulating his parents.Consoling him,
Parvati showed a short cut. She divulged that it was ordained in the
scriptures that he who offered pujan to his parents and then circumambulated
them received the same merit as he who went around the earth. Ganapati
hence married first showing that one who obeys the wish of the choicest
devotee of God or his parents attains his desired wishes. Hence Ganeshji
is invoked first in all auspicious events, rites and rituals such as
marriage, opening ceremonies, ground-breaking ceremonies, yagnas and
The Shiva Puran cites another story. Prajapati had two daughters, Siddhi
(wealth) and Buddhi (intellect). He approached Parvati and Shivaji for
the girls' marriage to Kartikeya and Ganeshji. However both girls wished
to marry only the latter. Thus they married him. Siddhi gave birth to
a son named 'Shubh' (auspiciousness) and Buddhi to 'Labh' (merit).
Therefore when businessmen and merchants offer pujan to Ganeshji and
Lakshmiji they write 'Shubh' and 'Labh' inside their account ledgers
to invoke the two deities.
The first person to observe the 'vrat' (vow) of Ganesh Chaturthi was
Chandra - the moon. After Ganeshji's fame as leader ('pati') of Shiva's
'ganas', hence Ganapati, he was travelling through the heavens. As he
passed Chandra - who prided on his attractive features, he slighted
Ganeshji's peculiar form. In return, Ganeshji cursed him, "You shall
bear the fruit of your karma. Whenever somebody does your darshan he
will be cursed too." Chandra begged for forgiveness. Ganeshji then advised
him to observe the Ganesh Chaturthi vrat and was freed from the curse.
By being aware of the detrimental effects of false pride one should
cultivate humility. The Skanda Purana mentions this sentiment of the
The Vayu Puran advocates the observance of this festival by listening
to the following relevant episode of Shri Krishna, to be relieved from
When Shri Krishna was falsely accused of pilfering the Syamantak Mani
(gem) he observed Ganesh Chaturthi and was freed from the false charge.
This festival also inspires devotees to inculcate two virtues; obeying
the commands of God and His choicest devotee, and consolidating faith
in them, just as Ganeshji had faith and trust in Parvati regarding circumambulating
To scribe the Mahabharat
Katha Ganeshji removed one of his tusks to carve a quill from it.
He then scribed the epic on palm leaves as the sage Ved Vyas recited
it. The scribing took three years!
In south India there
is a belief that when ploughing first began on earth, it was Lord
Ganeshji who first ploughed using one of his tusks.
In the Uttar Ramayan,
Brahmand Puran and Padma Puran there is a reference of a battle
between Ganeshji and Parshuram. During the duel, the latter's axe
fractured one of Ganeshji's tusks According to the Brahmand Puran,
it was his left tusk.
There are other names related to his
body and virtues.
A few commonly known are listed below:
Lambodar - from the
long - 'lambo', tummy - 'udar'.
Gajkarna - from the
large elephant 'Gaja' ears - 'karna.'
Kapil - from his ruddy
Vikat - heavy-bodied.
- Bhalchandra - having a Chandra (moon)
on his forehead - 'bhal.'
- Dwaimatur - one who has 'dwi' - two,
'mata' - mother; Parvati - who gave birth to him and Malini - a demoness
who nurtured him.
- Vakratund - one who breaks the ego of
he who behaves anti-socially ('Vakra').
- Mudgal - In south India, a special 'Mudgal
Puran' extols Ganapati's glory. It cites 32 names, while 'Shardatilak'
lists 51 names.
- Vigneshwar - One who removes mayic obstacles
Symbolism and Import
Since Ganeshji represents auspiciousness, his whole being has symbolic
imports for devotees:
Large ears - signify listening to God's katha with great zeal.
Small eyes - to do the Lord's darshan minutely.
Large forehead - to develop great intellect to realise God.
Large stomach - depicts his great capacity to empathise with
the woes of devotees.
Short legs - depicts patience.
Long trunk - symbolic of his deep scriptural wisdom.
Mouse as vehicle - a hyperactive creature, symbolic of our
indriyas. Therefore Ganesh sitting on such a vehicle represents a
deity of control over the indriyas.
Four arms - which hold: 'ankush' - symbol for control over
- for happiness
'pash' - axe to punish the indriyas and antahkaran
'ashirvad mudra' - blessings for the well being of humanity
Depending on the role of Ganapati, the
number of arms varies, as do the type of objects.
Festival & Ritual
On this day every household in Maharashtra installs a small clay murti
of Ganeshji in their homes. He is offered pujan and prasad until Sud
14 - Anant Chaturthi. This is celebrated with great festivity and
fervor and the murti is taken to a river or lake and submerged. A
well known chant is chanted during the procession for submersion :
Ganpati Bapa Moriya - Farewell O Lord
Gheema ladu choriya - Who avails 'ladus' soaked in ghee
Pudcha varsi laukariya - Return in haste next year.
Bapa Moriya re, Bapa Moriya re - O Lord farewell, O Lord farewell…
In Gujarat and in the Swaminarayan mandirs a clay or plaster of paris
murti of Ganesh is installed on Ganesh Chaturthi and worshiped for
ten days. The murti is submerged on 'Parivartini' i.e. 'Jal Zilani'
Ekadashi. Devotees observe a waterless fast. The traditional prasad
offered to Lord Ganeshji are chopped cucumbers and 'ladus' - sweet
balls of wheat flour, ghee and sugar.
Five pujas and arti are offered, together with a boat ride after each
arti before Ganeshji's 'Visarjan' - submergence.
In this manner Ganesh is a deity of auspiciousness, wisdom and wealth.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival inspiring devotees to inculcate redemptive
virtues in their lives.