It is that part of the year when most of us are waiting for the arrival of our favorite guest- Lord Ganesha. India will celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi on 5th September and this weekend most of us will be busy decorating our home and getting Ganpati to our humble nest. Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten day Hindu festival celebrated to honor Lord Ganesha and pray to him for successful completion of every new activity without any obstacles. That is why Lord Ganpati has earned the sobriquet of Vignaharta ( Vigna – obstacles and harta- vanquisher).
Birth of Ganesha
The legend goes as Goddess Parvathi incarnated Lord Ganesha with the dirt of her body. He was asked to guard the door while she was taking bath. Lord Shiva requested him to give way so that he can meet Parvathi but as instructed Ganesha did not allow him to enter. Lord Shiva tried his best to cajole Lord Ganesha, but steadfast and obedient son did not yield. Frustrated and in fit of anger, Shiva severed Ganesha’s head. Infuriated Parvathi informed that Ganesha was just following instruction and he had no right to kill her son. Lord Shiva could not resist the plight of Parvathi seething with pain and promised Ganesha will live albeit with another head. All the other gods went into a frenetic search for an alternate head and all they could manage was the head of an elephant. Ganesha was revived with head of an elephant on his shoulder and thus he was named elephant headed – Vinayak and Ganpati.
Remorseful Shiva declared that from herein the universe will bow before Lord Ganesha before beginning any new activity. That is how Lord Ganesha blesses us before any fresh start and on the pious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi our beloved vighnaharta arrives at our homes and showers his blessings.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on fourth day of first fortnight in the month of Bhaadrapada. There are five main rituals during the festival-
1. Purna Kumbha Kalasha Sthapana– Before getting Ganesha, an earthen pot filled with holy water is established with rice kept on top
2. Pranapratishtha– it is the ceremony by which the idol is consecrated.
3. Shhodashopachara – 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha.
4. Uttarpuja – This ritual is performed before the immersion of Ganesha.
5. Ganpati Visarjan – Immersion of the idol in the river.
We all celebrate the festival with all zeal and zest. All wait for Chaturthi to have those scrumptious modaks and the entire nation gets soaked in the color of festival. Pandals are rigged at every available space and loud speakers blurt out loud music offering paeans to the lord. All the festivities elate us and keep us spirited, but in our hysteria of celebrations we generally forgo our responsibilities towards Mother Earth and society as well. Streets are all littered with confetti, tattered remains of fire-crackers, empty sweet boxes, wrappers and all kinds of plastic products. Another disturbing trend has also caught traction lately with some miscreants consuming under the garb of celebrations and creating nuisance for the neighborhood.
Eco friendly Ganesh Festival
Completely consumed with joy and happiness we immerse our beloved lord with a promise of return next year, but what we forget is that while this ritual is symbolic, it leaves a permanent scar in the river-belly. The idols are made of Plastic of Paris (PoP) which takes several months to dissolve in water while toxic colors used pollute water and increase acid content endangering the marine life. Disintegration of idols reduces oxygen level in water thus disturbing the ecological balance. Other waste materials like plastic cups become favored grounds for mosquitos to breed threatening our health and well-being.
The problem can be solved by making idols with eco-friendly materials such as clay and using innocuous colors. Use of plastic should be thoroughly discouraged instead bags and cups made of paper shall be used. We can make idol of Ganesha at home with clay which can be both economical and eco-friendly. Government and other organizations have started an awareness drive to encourage people to use clay-idols as it will eliminate threat to our natural resources. Lot of celebrities also have jumped in the campaign to promote eco-friendly style of celebrations.
Let this festival mark the beginning of eco-friendly celebrations and let Ganesha enter our homes with confidence that we will keep our habitat safe. Definitely a happy Ganesha will be excited to visit us next year with renewed vigor. So bid adieu to contended Ganesh as he eagerly waits to be our guest, but with promise of CLEAN and GREEN planet.
Ganpati Bappa Moriya, Pudchya Varshi Laukariya!