Lord Ganesh, or Ganesha, is among the most adorable deities in the Hindu pantheon. The elephant-headed god symbolises success, happiness, prosperity, and wisdom. He is also worshipped as “Vighneswara,” the remover of obstacles. Lord Ganesha is addressed by as many as 108 names, each representing his divine powers. Now, it’s that time of the year again when the birth of this endearing deity will be celebrated for a full 10 days. It’s time to get intoxicated by the heady smells of lily and lotus flowers, not to forget the sweet modak (dumplings), Lord Ganesha’s favourite food.
Interestingly, Ganesh Chaturthi is also celebrated with equal zeal and devotion by people of other faiths, marking a great occasion to nurture communal harmony and affirm the underlying truth about the oneness of all beings. However, there are certain misconceptions about how this festival should be celebrated. Read on to learn more about this beautiful festival and the dos and don’ts during Ganesh Chaturthi.
Understanding Ganesh Chaturthi and Common Mistakes to Avoid
Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the Hindu calendar's sixth month, called Bhadrapada, corresponding with the August–September period. It commences on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the month, with Ganesha idols placed on pedestals at home or in public places. Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 is to begin on 19th September this year.
The 10 days are marked by the chanting of Vedic hymns and discourses from the Ganesh Upanishad, the anointment of the elephant god with bright-coloured pastes and flowers, and offerings made of jaggery, coconut, and 21 modak pieces. On the 10th and final day, the Ganesh idols are reverentially carried off in huge processions to rivers and immersed amidst the chanting of devotional songs and dance and drumbeats. People bid farewell to Lord Ganesha as he makes his way to Mount Kailash, the home of Shiva and Parvati, his parents.
Vinayaka refers to the qualities of a true leader, a master in all aspects. It also means Vighneswara, or the remover of obstacles. Hence, one who prays to Vinayaka never faces any obstacles in worldly and spiritual endeavours. Further, Ganesha has an elephant's head and trunk, signifying that his intelligence can be compared to an elephant, which always acts after intelligent discrimination. Praying to Vinayaka removes all bad qualities, instils virtues, and confers peace on the devotee. Ganesh Chaturthi is the time to understand such sacred truths taught by sages thousands of years ago.
Now that Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 is just around the corner, let us look at some Ganesh Chaturthi do’s and don'ts:
- Remember to take Lord Ganesha's idol home for 1, 3, 7, or 10 days and place it on a clean, decorated pedestal to enable proper viewing (darshan) by all devotees.
- Before you bring your Lord Ganesha idol home, ensure you have taken a proper bath and cleaned the house thoroughly.
- Only “sattvic” food should be prepared during Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, and the food must first be offered to Lord Ganesha before members of the household consume it. (Sattvic is derived from the Sanskrit word “sattva”. Sattva can mean "pure, essence, natural, vital, energy, clean, conscious, strong, true, honest, and wise").
- Adhere to the auspicious time for successfully immersing the Ganesha idol and do so only after offering prayers and prasad to the deity.
- Observe the daily puja rituals, such as offering fresh flowers, modak, fruits, incense, etc. Recite prayers and mantras, and sing devotional songs praising Lord Ganesha.
- Light an oil lamp during morning and evening aarti.
- Avoid consuming onion and garlic after Ganpatisthapna during the festivity period. Remain strictly away from non-vegetarian items and alcohol during the 10-day festival. These foods are considered “tamasic” and are believed to promote negative qualities, such as laziness, anger, attachment, self-doubt, guilt, boredom, irritation, addiction, depression, dependency, confusion, grief, and ignorance.
- Do not close the main door of the house while installing Lord Ganesha's idol or at the time of immersion as you are welcoming home the remover of obstacles.
- Do not wear dull-coloured clothing; choose bright red, yellow, or green clothes instead.
- Avoid shaving, clipping your nails, or having a haircut from the fourth to the tenth day, as these days are deemed auspicious.
Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with Total Devotion and From Your Heart
An inner and profound meaning lies behind all the pomp and gaiety we observe when celebrating religious festivals. The outward displays are all mediums to draw people and set the mood among them to bring forth their devotion to God or by whatever name we address the Creator. The Ganesh Chaturthi dos and don’ts are also ways to bring about a sense of discipline and feelings of reverence and gratitude for what life has bestowed upon us. As we have learnt above, Lord Ganesha is the dispeller of darkness, ignorance, and the remover of obstacles. Hence, if we pray to him with total devotion and from the depths of our hearts, no obstacle can keep us from achieving our worldly and spiritual goals. For God is both with form and without; in fact, he embodies everything we see around us. What's better than to imagine the Creator as an adorable elephant-headed, four-armed guardian?
So, with Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 just a few days away, here's wishing one and all the very best in all their endeavours, both material and spiritual. Do remember the dos and don’ts on Ganesh Chaturthi listed above. Let us all understand the true significance of this beautiful festival and celebrate it with the right mindset, sharing joy, happiness, and love. These virtues defy all scientific reasoning, for the more we give, they come back to us, multiplied many times! May Lord Ganesha shower his choicest blessings on each and every one of us!