About Sri Ganesha
“Vakrtund mahakaya surya koti samaprabha | Nirbhignam kurumedeva sarva karyeshu sarvada”
(Oh Ganesh, of the curved trunk and great body, whose splendor equals that of a million suns, May your blessings remove all obstacles in my endeavors.)
Aum. Lord Ganesha is the beloved elephant-headed god of Hinduism. Ganesha is one of the five main Hindu deities, alongside Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga (Shakti).Ganesha has many names and epilates, but he is most commonly called Ganesha, Ganesh, Ganapati or Pilliyar. (Read more about Ganesha’s Names)
Ganesha is easy to identify with his elephant head, chubby body, four arms, broken tusk and snake-belt. Sometimes he appears as a chubby, happy child. Who is devoted to his mother, the Goddess Parvati. And other times, as a pot-bellied, middle-aged man ridding atop a mouse or lounging on his thrown munching on Modaka sweets.
Every Hindu God has a distinct iconography of objects and symbols. The special objects associated with Ganesha are held in his four hands, his elephant truck or rest on the ground beside him. They include an elephant goad (Ankusa), a coconut and a bowl of modaka sweets. Images of Ganesha will also show his loyal mount, the mouse (or rat). (Read more about Ganesha’s symbols).
As well as his many symbolic objects, Ganesha’s appearance is full of meaning:
“Ganesha's bulky head symbolizes his extraordinary intelligence.”
“His broad ears symbolize his capacity to listen to the prayers of all his devotees.”
“His huge belly signifies that the entire Brahmanda (universe) is hidden within Ganapati.”
“Ganesha broke off one of his tusks to use as a writing implement [to write down] the Mahabharata – a symbol of sacrifice.”
Ganesha Lord of...
Ganesha is a very complex deity. He rules many areas of our daily life as well as our spiritual life. Ganesha sets an example as the dutiful son, virtuous Hindu and ideal person.
- He is Vighnesha, the Lord of Beginnings. By devote Hindus, he is worships at the beginning of every activity, be it a religious ceremony, a marriage or the start of a new business venture. Many Hindus begin an activity with an invocation to Ganesha - “ Om Shree Ganeshaya Namaha” - literally meaning ‘Ganesha, I pray to you.’
- He is Vinayaka, the Lord of Obstacles. We pray to Ganesha to remove obstacle from the path to our objectives. But if proper respect is not payed to Ganesha, he is also capable of placing obstacles onto the path, instead of removing them.
- He is Siddhidhata, the Lord of Success. His devotees believe that with true devotion they will be rewarded with all they desire. The great Maharishi Narada (son of Brahma) praised Ganesha as follows:
“Vidyarthee labhate vidyam Dhanarthee labhate dhanam Putrarthee labhate putram Moksharthee labhate gatim”
(A student acquires education - a man who desires money gains wealth - one who seeks a son gets a son and the one who aspires to salvation reaches his goal.)
- He is Buddhipriyaya, the one who admires wisdom. Ganesha is admired for his great wisdom and is the patron God of scholars. His consorts are traditionally named Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity).
- He is Ganapati, the leader of the Ganas, a troop of semi-divine warriors. He is a mighty warrior himself, who slays demons to protect both humans and the other Gods.
- He is Uddanda Ganapati, the Ruler of Dharma. It is said that He understands every detail of a persons karma and can see the true path of their dharma. He uses his power to add and remove obstacles, to guide us on this path.
- He is also Heramba, Mother's Beloved Son and Swaroop, the Lover of Beauty. He appreciates beautiful things; music, dance, literature. He loves food and sweets and he has a wonderful sense of humor.
- To the Ganapatya, a sect of Hindu devotees; Ganesha is more than Shiva and Paravti’s son; He is Avaneesh, the Lord of the whole world and Bhuvanpati, the God of the Gods.
“O Lord Ganapati! You alone are the visible manifestation of the Essence of the words ’tattvamasi‘ [That thou art]. You alone are the Doer. You alone are the Creator and the Sustainer (of the universe). You alone are the Destroyer. Verily You alone are all this - ’idam sarvam‘ - in the creation, because You are Brahman. You are the Eternal Atman in bodily form.”
-- a passage from the Ganapati Atharvashirsais translated by Swami Chinmayananda
The Popularity of Ganesha
Ganesha is immensely popular in India. He is worshiped by Hindus regardless of religious affiliation. Ganesha is also honored among Jains and Buddhist. His following has lasted thousands of years; has spread across India, Southeast Asia and now throughout the world. Even the other Hindu Gods adore and honor Ganesha.
"The elephant-headed deity transcends the boundaries of sect and caste, even of religion and geography. He is worshiped in many distant countries, invoked by Buddhists, Jains and all Hindus, high as well as low caste. Indeed the emphatically non-sectarian temper of Ganesha worship inspired freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak to use se Ganesha as an icon of concord". (Royina Grewal)
Images of Ganesha are found everywhere in India. Guarding the doorways of homes, business and temples. In small shrines along village street or at busy highways intersections. On wedding invitations, on car dashboards, on t-shirts and advertisements. And of course, Ganesha can be found in Hindu temples and on family alters. Today Ganesha’s popularity extends around the world.
"Ganesha has different names, forms and symbolic significance in some countries. He is famous in different forms in Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, etc"
Ganesha’s popularity now extends around the world. As Hinduism spread outside of India, Hindus have taken Ganesha went with them. There are Hindu temples dedicated to Ganesha around the world, including; the United States, Canada, England, Norway, Germany, South Africa and Australia, to name a few. (see Ganesha Temples )
Ganesha Chaturthi, also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’, is a festival celebrating Lord Ganesha birthday. It is a ten-day festival occurring during August or September. Chaturthi beings on the fourth day in the waxing phase of the moon. Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival culminates in a spectacular parade called Ganesha Visarjana, in which statues of Ganesha are carried to a river or the ocean and immersed in water. It is a time of rejoicing, when all Hindus worship together.
"In the late nineteenth century, [freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak] initiated a community festival of Ganesha in Maharashtra, deliberately designed to bring people of various castes together and forge a new unity in the freedom movement". (Royina Grewal)
The tradition of making a clay idol (Murti) of Ganesha is connected to the story of Ganesha’s birth. The legend says that Goddess Parvati created her son from Saffron paste and the dust she brushed from her body during her bath. When the clay murtis are placed in water, the clay dissolves, and we are reminded of the cycle of life; creation, growth, destruction and re-birth.
Ganesh Chaturthi in 2009 -- Sunday, the 23rd of August.
Ganesh Chaturthi in 2010 -- Saturday, the 11th of September.
Ganesh Chaturthi in 2011 -- Thursday, the 1st of September.
Ganesh Chaturthi in 2012 -- Wednesday, the 19th of September.
Visit these sites to learn more about Ganesha Chaturthi
- Listen to a pronounciation of "Ganesh Chaturthi". -
- HinduKids - Ganesha Chaturthi - www.hindukids.org
- Ganesha Chaturthi in Paris - http://ganapati.perso.neuf.fr
- GaneshBlog - Ganesha Chaturthi - www.ganeshblog.com
- About.com - Ganesha Chaturthi - hinduism.about.com
- Wikipedia - Ganesha Chaturthi - en.wikipedia.org
- Festivals of India - www.festivalsindia.com
The Milk Miracle
An important part of Hinduism is the practice of making symbolic offering to God. Fruit, flowers, incense, poems, songs and money are favorite offerings. It is customary for Hindus to offer a portion of food to God before a meal. The gods are not expected to actually eat the food. Instead, the food, which is now considered blessed, is taken back and eaten by the devotees. However, on September 1995, God did take the offering.
“It all began on September 21st, when an otherwise ordinary man in New Delhi dreamt that Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Wisdom, craved a little milk. Upon awakening, he rushed in the dark before dawn to the nearest temple, where a skeptical priest allowed him to proffer a spoonful of milk to the small stone image. Both watched in astonishment as it disappeared, magically consumed by the God.
What followed is unprecedented in modern Hindu history. Within hours news had spread like a brush fire across India that Ganesha was accepting milk offerings. Tens of millions of people of all ages flocked to the nation's temples. The unworldly happening brought worldly New Delhi to a standstill, and its vast stocks of milk - more than a million liters - sold out within hours. Just as suddenly as it started in India, it stopped in just 24 hours.” (Philip Mikas)
The so called ‘Milk Miracle’, occurred across India and all over the world in Hindu temples and homes. When an offering of milk was offered to murtis of Ganesha, the milk seemed to disappear. This occurrence was observed by millions of people, both Hindu and non-Hindu. Photographs and video cameras recorded the phenomenon. That evening, the miracle was broadcast on international news.
“Ganesha has always been known for his delightful sense of humor. On that fall day in 1995, it’s possible he was gently reminding people everywhere that the ultimate purpose of life lies not in serving themselves, but in serving god. And that day he wanted to be served milk!” (Linda Johnsen)
Visit these sites to learn more about the Milk miracle
- The Milk Miracle - www.milkmiracle.com
- The Milk Miracle Video - www.milkmiracle.com/html/miracle.html#Video
- More about the ‘Milk Miracle’ - www.csuchico.edu/~cheinz/syllabi/asst001/spring99/Karmegam/milk.html
- An article about the ‘Milk Miracle’ - http://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/leisure/trivia/ganapati-milk.htm