Who popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival?

Till 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were a private affair, not done on a public scale. People used to celebrate it in a traditional manner. It was Lokmanya Tilak who popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival, after visualizing its cultural importance. The reason for this was to enhance the sense of belongingness as well as togetherness among the citizens. It was also done with an aim to build a new grassroots unity between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins.

History
Ganesh Chaturthi was an important festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra. It acquired a more organized form all over India during the Swaraj movement, when Lord Ganesha was chosen as a rallying point for protest against British rule, because of his wide appeal as “the God for Everyman”. One of Tilak’s strongest movements to evoke nationalism, through religious passions, was the organization of Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, which inspired feelings of Hindu unity in the state.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first person to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and he was the one who established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day of the festival. Ganesh Chaturthi soon started seeing community participation and involvement, in the form of cultural events. It also served as a meeting point for common people of all castes and communities, at a time when social and political gatherings were forbidden by the British Rule.

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Meaning of Ganapati

‘Ga’ symbolises Buddhi (intellect), ‘Na’ stands for Vijnana (wisdom). So, Ganapati is the master of Buddhi and Vijnana. The universe is sustained by Ganas (gods) and Ganapati is their master. In this world, everybody has a master, but Ganapati has none. He is a master by himself. This is the birthday of the Master of Masters. Ganapati is also called Mooshika Vahana (one who has a mouse as his vehicle). You may wonder how a small mooshika can carry on its back a hefty personality like Vinayaka. Here mooshika does not mean a mere mouse. It symbolises the darkness of ignorance because it is in darkness that the mouse moves about. Hence, Mooshika Vahana is one who subdues ignorance and dispels darkness. It is only when we understand the inner significance of the Vinayaka principle that we will be able to celebrate Vinayaka Chaturthi properly.

Vinayaka is also called Vighneswara (remover of obstacles). No obstacle can come in the way of one who prays to Vinayaka. Worship of Vinayaka confers success in spiritual as well as worldly endeavours. God grants happiness at two levels, Pravritti (outward) and Nivritti (inward). Pravritti is related to physical body whereas Nivritti to intellect. The former undergoes change with the passage of time, whereas the latter remains unchanged. Hence, one should try to reduce body attachment with proper food and habits.

Today people perform Vinayaka worship without actually understanding its significance. Vinayaka symbolises the qualities of a true leader in all aspects. “Viyate Nayake Iti Vinayaka” meaning, He is a master unto Himself. In this world Vinayaka is worshipped by many. However, Vinayaka does not worship anyone as He has no master above Him. Even Easwara, the father, worships His son Vinayaka, but it does not happen the other way.

Repentance is the basis for the glorious life that follows. To recognize this truth, you worship Lord Vigneshwara.

History of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Ganesh (Ganesha), the god of wisdom and prosperity on the fourth day of the moons bright fortnight, or period from new moon in the lunar month of Bhadrapada. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi continue for five, seven, or ten days. Some even stretch it to twenty one days, but ten the most popularly celebrated. In the tradition of the right hand path the first day is the most important. In the left hand path tradition the final day is most important.

Ganesha is the god of wisdom and prosperity and is invoked before the beginning of any auspicious work by the Hindus. It is believed that for the fulfillment of one’s desires, his blessing is absolutely necessary. According to the mythology, he is the son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Kartikeya – the general of the gods, Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and Saraswati-the goddess of learning. There are numerous stories in Hindu mythology, associated with the birth of this elephant-headed god, whose vehicle is the Mooshak or rat and who loves Modaks (droplet shaped Indian sweet).

Legend has it that Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood dough that she used for her bath and breathed life into him. Letting him stand guard at the door she went to have her bath. When her husband, Shiva returned, the child who had never seen him stopped him. Shiva severed the head of the child and entered his house. Parvati, learning that her son was dead, was distraught and asked Shiva to revive him. Shiva cut off the head of an elephant and fixed it on the body of Ganesha.

Another tale tells of how one day the Gods decided to choose their leader and a race was to be held between the brothers- Kartikeya and Ganesh. Whoever took three rounds of the earth first would be made the Ganaadhipati or the leader. Kartikeya seated on a peacock as his vehicle, started off for the test. Ganesh was given a rat, which moved swiftly. Ganesh realised that the test was not easy, but he would not disobey his father. He reverently paid obeisance to his parents and went around them three times and thus completed the test before Kartikeya. He said, ” my parents pervade the whole universe and going around them, is more than going round the earth.” Everybody was pleasantly surprised to hear Ganesha’s logic and intelligence and hence he came to be known as the Ganaadhipati or leader, now referred to as Ganpati.

There is also a story behind the symbolic snake, rat and the singular tusk. During one of his birthdays, His mother, Parvati, cooked for him twenty-one types of delicious food and a lot of sweet porridge. Ganesha ate so much that even his big belly could not contain it. Mounting his little mouse, he embarked on his nightly rounds. His mouse suddenly stumbled upon seeing a huge snake. To adjust His belly, Ganesha put the snake on as a belt around his stomach. All of a sudden, he heard laughter emanating form the sky.

He looked up and saw the moon mocking him. Ganesha infuriated, broke off one of his tusks and hurled it at the moon. Parvati, seeing this, immediately cursed the moon that whoever looks at it on Ganesh Chaturthi will be accused of a wrong doing. The symbology behind the mouse and snake and Ganesha’s big belly and its relationship to the moon on his birthday is highly philosophic. The whole cosmos is known to be the belly of Ganesha. Parvati is the primordial energy. The seven realms above, seven realms below and seven oceans, are inside the cosmic belly of Ganesha, held together by the cosmic energy (kundalini ) symbolized as a huge snake which Ganesha ties around Him. The mouse is nothing but our ego. Ganesha, using the mouse as a vehicle, exemplifies the need to control our ego. One who has controlled the ego has Ganesha consciousness or God-consciousness.

Ganesh Festival in Hyderabad

Devinagar Youth Association was formed in 1978 by the youth of our colony comprising social workers, dramatists, stage artists, enthusiastic and outstanding personalities with potential to exhibit their talents in promoting cultural and social activities.

We have also demonstrated and exhibited our artistic talents under this banner at different occasions in our colony attracting large number of people spell bound. We always stood as volunteers in the fore front for the noble cause of donating blood at various occasions sponsored by Gandhinagar police station and other social organization of the twin cities.

Recognizing the merits in our youth, some of our youth have been chosen as maitri members of Gandhinagar police station to cooperate with them in maintaining law and order in a harmonious way.

We spontaneously participated in disaster management with cash and kind in the recent flood occurred at Kurnool district.

Obtaining the guidance of elderly persons and senior citizens of our colony at every stage while pursuing with our programs is always our paramount concern. With this outlook, we were able to mobilize reasonable numbers of youth of our colony into the fold of our activities.

One of the prominent activities of our association is celebrating Independence Day and Republic day in a ceremonial and disciplined manner. We invite one of the distinguished personalities on this occasion to hoist the National flag with National Anthem. We also conduct sports and games competition by the children of our colony. We exorbitantly exhibit our patriotism and national integrity on these occasions.

We have not only won the admiration of the residents of our colony but also MLA’s, MP’s and the staff of Gandhinagar police station for the peaceful conduct of all events.

We keep our colony clean and green. We have set an example in the entire Kavadiguda for maintaining cleanliness. Having identified our managerial capabilities with the members of our association, the elders and the prominent residents of our colony have advised us to celebrate the Ganesh festival every year in the addition to the existing activities.

Accordingly we started celebrating Ganesh festival at a very large scale regularly since 1978 onwards. Substantially a big idol of Lord Ganapathi is installed, surrounded by huge structure decorated with illuminations studded with colorful lights. These celebrations are spread over nine days as per the scheduled programs. Every evening of Navratri celebrations is conducted with Bhakti, Shraddha and Devotion. The Bhajans and Parayanams and devotional programs are under taken during these nine days. To explore the talents of the children of our colony, we conduct singing, dance and fancy dress competitions. They feel extremely delighted when they receive the prizes on the last day of celebrations along with their parents. We invite the distinguish personalities including politicians and leaders of our constituency and more importantly the staff of Gandhinagar police station for conducting pooja and prize distribution. The coverage of these celebrations is highlighted by the press and media with the photographs and articles published in popular newspapers. The peaceful Ganesh procession is taken on the last day with music and folk dances by the devotees and youth of our colony with drums, trumpets and bugles to match with the occasion. The Ganesh idol which was worshipped for nine days with pooja’s performed by purohits, travels slowly in a magnificent way on the decorated chariot for the immersion at Hussain Sagar Lake at Hyderabad.

In view of the above mentioned activities we have established our identity as praise worthy citizens and our association is proudly termed as a “PRESTIGIOUS ORGANIZATION”.

Having won the admiration of the people at large, we look forward to meet with the new challenges confronted by the youth and solve them with the totality of the concept of hard work, commitment and collective endeavor, we have a long way to go . . .

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