Birth of Ganesha....
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 andreturned 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.
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 festival.
The Vayu Puran advocates the observance of this festival by listening to the following relevant episode of Shri Krishna, to be relieved from false accusation:
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 his parents.
Bhadarva Sud 4th is the day Parvati was offering the final pujan to the dead Ganeshji, when he resurrected.
"Om Sri Gam Ganapathaye Namaha"
This is the Lord Ganesha's mantra.
According to the Vaidic literature, Ganesha is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and he is the head of Pramadhaganas, hence Ganapathi. His brother is Kumaraswamy.
Hindus worship Lord Ganesha with several other names like Vinayaka, Vighneswara, Gajanana and Ganapathi.
Lord Ganapathi is said to be the form of Omkara. Om, which is written in Devanagari (script) is also considered as the pranava. In Om, the upper arc is said to be the head or the face of Gajanana. The Lower arc is his belly. The twisted arc, which is on the right side of Om is the trunk. Thus Omkara represents the complete physical form of Lord Ganesha.
Similarly, yet another divine symbol, the Swastika is also worshipped as another form of Lord Ganesha. According to the Indian culture, both these symbols have divine values.
Every year, the fourth day after the no-moon day (Amaavasya) in the month of Bhadrapada (September according to the English calendar) is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. This day is known as Vinayaka Chaturdhi or Vinayaka Chavithi.
On this day, Lord Ganesha was born in Hasthami Nakshatra and Kanya Raasi. The Lord of Kanaya Raasi is Budha (Mercury). Green coloured jewel or Emerald represents Mercury. Owing to this, we worship Lord Ganesha with grass, which is of green in colour.
As Ganesha was born in the zodiac Mercury, he is intelligent like Budha. Similarly, who ever prays him will also attain the intelligence. The Raasi in which Ganesha was born (Hasthami) has the shape of an elephant trunk and rises before dawn on the day of Vinayaka Chavithi.
In the zodiac, Kanya Raasi is in the sixth position. This place indicates the debts and diseases. Owing to this, by worshiping the Lord, the devotees will get rid of the problems related to debt and ill health.
Ganesha is also considered to be the Lord of agriculture. Bhadrapada, the month in which Ganesha was born, falls in rainy season. Being the Lord of agriculture, even the body parts of Ganesha have relevance to various agricultural implements. His trunk resembles the plough. Ears are compared to dust pans. His belly is compared to granary. His vehicle, the rat, indicates the abundant availability of grain. The goad he holds is used for driving the bullock carts, which carry the grain to the granary.A fruit in the other hand is indication of bountiful yield. All these indicate that Lord Ganesha symbolises prosperity.
Aakaashasyaadhipo Vishnuhu Agneshchaiva maheshvari
Vaayoh Sooryaha Kshiterishaha Jeevanasya Ganaadhipaha
This indicates Lord Ganesha to be the Lord of water as well. Basing on this, his idols are immersed in water after worshiping them for nine days during the Vinayaka navaratri.
Lord Ganesha inspires all Lords related to the Karmendriyas (mouth, hands, legs, rectum and genitals), five Gnanendriyas (eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin), four antahkaranas (Manas,Buddhi,Ahankara and Chittam).
As every recital starts with an Omkara, all the rituals too start only after praying Lord Ganesha. Otherwise, it is believed, the rituals will not reach their logical end.
Sumukhaschaikadanthascha kapilo gajakarnikaha
Lambodarascha vikato vighnaraajo ganaadhipaha
Dhoomaketurganaadhyakshaha phalachandro gajaananaha
Vakratundaha shoorpakarno herambaha skandhapoorvajaha
Who ever recites all these 16 names of Lord Ganesha will avoid various starting troubles during any activity.
There is a mention about Lord Ganesha and his importance in Padma Purana, Linga Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Skaanda Purana, Siva Purana, Ganesha Purana, Mudgala Purana, Ganapatyadharva Sheersham and Ganapatyupanishad.
Lord Ganesha is described to be having an elephant face, large ears, one tusk, four arms, large belly and the rat as his vehicle. Noose, goad, tusk and an open palm assuring protection…is the description about his four arms. His colour is mentioned to be blood red and sports the same coloured clothes.
Devotees worship him with 21 blades of grass (Darbha) and 21 varieties of flowers. He is known as Modakapriya. Hence is offered 21 Modakas (round cakes or balls made of rice flour). Lord Vinayaka also likes Wood apple, coconut, black plum, plum and other varieties of fruits. Green gram and Bengal gram are soaked in water and offered.
While reciting Ganapathi Stotra or Shata or Sahasra Naama, every name starts with four beejaaksharas—Om, Shreem Glaum Gam and ends with Namaha.
Wednesday is the prominent day for Lord Ganesha. Gam is the beejaakshara for Ganapathi. According to Shiva Purana, 21 forms of ganesha are worshipped. However, this number is put at 32 according to another theory. Ganesha likes music and dance.
Shuklaambaradharam vishnum shashi varnam chaturbhujam
Prasanna vadanam dhyaayet sarva vighnopa shaantaye
Agajaanana padmaarkam gajaananamaharnisham
Aneka damtam bhakataanaam ekadanta mupaasmahe
Both these slokas are recited during every ritual.
Ganapathi pancharatnas and Ganaasthakam are also recited by devotees.
Every fourth day after the full moon day is known as Sankastha Chaturthi. Devotees observe fast on the day till dawn and worship Lord Ganesha before having their meal. This practice is known as Sankashta chaturthi vratham. The ritual performed on Bhaadrapada Shudha Chaviti is known as Varasidhi Vinayaka vratham.
Vaishnavites, instead of worshipping Ganesha, worship Vishwaksena. However, it is believed Vishwaksena is the other form of Ganesha. A round areca/betel nut and raw turmeric are worshipped as the forms of Lord Ganesha.
Material required for worshipping Lord Ganesha
Turmeric powder, Saffron , Gulvaalu , Bukka , Camphor , Coconut , Incense sticks , Oil or ghee lamp , 21 grass blades (Darbha) , 21 varieties of flowers , Wood apple,Plum , Black plum , Guava , Pomegranate , Bananas, Panchaamrutam (a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar), Holy water collected from near by river, Turmeric , Round betel nuts (2 numbers) , Unbroken rice, Sandal powder, New piece of cloth , Yagnopaveetham (Sacred thread) , Betel leaves Dates, 21 varieties of leaves, Dakshina (offering in the form of currency or coins), Lord Ganesha's idol or a photograph, A book or a cassette which details the mantras and process of worshipping.
Om ganaanaam tva ganapathigm havaamahe
Kavim kaveena mupamashravasthamam
Jyeshtha raajam brahmanaam brahmanaspatha
This vaidic hymn is chanted before starting Ganapathi pooja.
Omkara is a combination of the basic syllables A (as pronounced in Other),
U (as pronounced in USHA) and Ma (as pronounced in MOTHER).
Devanagari: This is a form of script, which is used for writing Devabhasha or Sanskrit