It’s true! The elephant god, Lord Ganesha, is very much in town and he is here to stay (at least till the end of the month!) There are hundreds of stalls across the city that are homes to the magnificent idol. Yes, Mumbai is in full swing preparing for the much awaited festival of the year, the festival that kicks of the season of festivals in India – Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganesh birthday) or Ganeshotsav (festival of Ganesha), which marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha. This year, Ganesh Chaturthi will begin on the 19th of September. The festivities and celebrations last for 10 days and culminate on the last day with the Ganesh Visarjan, where Ganeshas of all shapes and sizes will be lead in procession and taken to the several beaches that dot the West coast of Mumbai for submergence into the sea.
Although the festival only begins on the 19th, the actual creation and mass production of the Ganesha idols begin at least a month in advance, and each masterpiece is proudly displayed in the many stalls across Mumbai. This festival is of great significance in Maharashtra, home to the city of Mumbai, as Ganesh is one of the highly favored and worshiped gods in this part of the county. Briefly touching on the symbolism of Ganesh, he is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvathi, and is also referred to as the Elephant god, amongst many other names. There are many stories and legends as to why this god has a human body and the head of an elephant. One such legend insists that Parvathi had created Ganesh out of sandalwood, breathed life into him, with Lord Shiva having no idea about his new off spring. On the day of his creation, Parvathi made Ganesh stand guard while she was bathing around which time, Shiva came home. Shiva wanted to enter the house which Ganesh prohibited (not knowing Shiva was his father), as a result of which he had to deal with Shiva’s wrath. In a fit of anger, Shiva severed the head of Ganesh, much to Parvathi’s dismay. When she realized what had happened and explained it to Shiva, he quickly tried to save his child; an elephant was passing by and Shiva sliced off the head of the animal and placed it on Ganesh’s body. Parvathi was satisfied and thus was born the “elephant god”.
Ganesh Chaturthi is always celebrated with great pomp and fare in Mumbai, involving a lot of music, money, processions, and some nonreligious activities (I shall give more updates when the festival begins). Here are some pictures I took of some of the recent idols on display for sale in Mumbai:
Lord Ganehsa, in Hindu mythology, is considered the “remover of obstacles”, the god you pray to fervently before you start a new project or buy a new object (flat, car, etc), asking him to eliminate and destroy any spiritual and material hindrances to your success. He is one of the most favorite and well known gods in Mumbai and the world, one that is revered for his wisdom and knowledge. It is truly amazing to see how this god will be revered and celebrated for 10 straight days, although I am not too pleased in the manner in which it is done (more on that later).
In the meantime, I ask Lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles that my be placed in the way of my readers’ success; to shower us and the planet with infinite wisdom and mercy as we traverse difficult and challenging times: