Lord Ganesha: Anecdotes and history

Ganesh festival is a perfect confluence of philosophy, mysticism, and mythology. The stories of God’s divine pastimes have great symbolic connotations, and require full understanding and concentration to be blessed with pure happiness and peace. Whoever understands their inner and outer meanings will grasp the essence of life.

Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of Lord Ganesh, falls on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada which falls in August-September. The symbolic connection behind the snake, mouse and the Lord’s pot belly and its relationship to the moon on his birthday is highly mythical and philosophic.

The entire cosmos is like the God’s belly. Shakti Parvati, the primordial energy, cooks 21 types of dishes, meaning 21 expansions of the cosmos: seven above, seven below and seven oceans – all of which are inside the Ganesha’s cosmic belly – held together by the cosmic energy symbolized as a huge snake that Ganesha ties around him.

The mouse is nothing but our inflated ego. Ganesha, using it as vehicle, represents the fact that our great Self or consciousness controls the ego, using it as a vehicle or instrument in daily life. In other words, one who controls the ego attains Ganesha-consciousness or God-consciousness.

Apart from a significant spiritual side, the festival has a social aspect. Lokmanya Tilak, the great freedom fighter, made it a public event to reshape the Indian psyche based on our own heritage and history.

The concept of public festivities is the gift given by him to the nation in the 19th century. Tilak had inspired people to organize the festival to rekindle nationalistic spirit. Since then, the purpose and form of the festival has greatly changed.

LALBAUGCHA RAJA (The King of Lalbaug) in Mumbai is among the most revered and popular Ganesh idols in Mumbai visited by a host of celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. The Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati, located in Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra, is another revered idol.

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