Saturday, September 18, 2004

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

Since the Hindu lord Shiva was away on a monster-busting ride, Goddess Parvathi decided to take a bath. She made a life-size clay model of a boy, breathed life into him, named him Vinayak, and asked him to guard the house while she’s in the bath. I guess that’s the way it worked with the Gods.

Parvathi was still bathing when Shiva came back and Vinayak didn’t let him pass. Furious about not being allowed into his own home, Shiva beheaded Vinayak. Parvathi was very upset by this. To make up, Shiva promised that he’ll replace Vinayak’s head with the head of the first thing he finds.

Shiva finds an elephant (some say it was the monster Gajasura), cuts off his head, and replaces Vinayak’s, giving us Gajanna – The “elephant-headed” God.

Gajanna, or Ganapathi (derived from the Sanskrit word Ganaadhipathi meaning “The Leader”), or Ganesha, was a favourite of goddess Parvathi, as he is a favourite for all of us today. Ganapathi is indeed worshipped more out of love than out of fear or awe.

We celebrate this “birthday” of the Lord, in a beautiful and colorful ten day festival starting today. This festival has come to have no boundaries of religion, community, age, wealth or sex, and is probably India’s largest public festival.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

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