The poise of the elephant god and the triumphant sounds of the drumbeats that resound in his name have found their way into the air around us once again. It is the time of the year, when we commemorate and celebrate the birth of the Lord of Wisdom, well-being and scriptural knowledge, Lord Ganesha. The deity with the elephant head carries with Him an aura of happiness, of selflessness and yet immense belonging and duty towards the passing world.
The Lord tells us how, we as mere mortals, can salvage and make the most out of what is given to us. Perhaps the reason this Modak Eating Lord has found a place of permanence in the hearts of us all is his relatability, and the story that His life tells that is in some way or another similar to those below him.
Lord Ganesha was devoutly dedicated to his mother, and was committed to the sole purpose of guarding and loving her. Yet, when threatened by his own father (albeit each of them being unaware of the other's identity), he showed a kind of resilience; a resilience that teaches all the creatures of the world to understand that there is absolutely no premise under which one must break from their morals, for true determination to stick in the path that is true is what makes someone rise above the rest. When he lost his Man-head in a battle against his father, Lord Shiva, he was blessed with an elephant head; even then, he neither complained, nor did he regret, for his identity as the Lord of Well-being teaches the world to realise that each and everything that happens to us gives us the best that life has to offer.
Another famous tale is one that narrates how Lord Ganesha broke one of his tusks in order to finish the writing to the Bhagavad Gita as it was being narrated to him by the mystic Ved Vyasa. Through this action, he showed how the process of learning and the acquisition of knowledge is indeed a sacred process and a focused and dedicated approach to the same bears amazingly fruitful results.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a celebration of freedom, and of the bliss that one can acquire by living in the present. It symbolises the worth of being connected to the universe in all its soul and sound. Chaturthi is simply a day meant to commemorate the birth or victory of a God and it makes us recall that all we would ever need to succeed is always with us. The tools God provides us with are already imbibed in us. The festival, emboldened with colours is a brilliant sight to behold; the colours orange and red symbolising sacrifice and courage. Ganesh Chaturthi brings to the fore the real worth of human civilization and how the Mouse-befriender God has found his way into the hearts of millions.
Going back to the history of the social celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival was first observed in the city of Pune in Maharashtra as a means of bridging the gap between the Hindu upper castes, namely the Brahmins and the other Non-Brahmins. The concept was a brainchild of the freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, known among his followers as Lokmanya Tilak, who sought to use the extolment of the festival as a platform to hold public meetings amidst an imperial backdrop. India then was in the grips of the colonial power, and did not have the right to organize such public meetings openly, lest they would form rebellion groups against the British. The Ganesh Chaturthi celebration was just the apt arena for summoning people from varying castes so as to organize meetings related to political affairs in Maharashtra.
At a time where the world is fraught with miseries and despondency, when human strife and feuds form a part of the everyday life, when altercation, communalism and religious bigotry cripple the very essence of human existence, festivals such as the Ganesh Utsav lend a platform for unity and a reason for looking at life as a beautiful gift of the Almighty. When you see thousands of people garbed in vibrant attires thronging along the roads to get a glimpse of the mammoth and blessed Elephant God, a kaleidoscopic congregation of His followers, one is filled with amazement, wondering the strange ways of the Almighty in creating the perfect ambience to trigger a sense of brotherhood and unity among his multitudes.
Lord Ganesha is considered to be the most auspicious beginning to anything new, and we hope He will shower his blessings upon our entire nation.