Temples, Community bodies plan Ganesh Chaturthi

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, August 17, 2022

The Birthday celebrations of Lord Ganesha, the Remover of All Obstacles, will begin on August 31, 2022, with Temples conducting special Poojas and Archanas.

Several community organisations are also planning festivals with nightly prayers, music and other events, heralding the festive season for the Hindu community.

Ganesh Chaturthi is always the harbinger of good tidings, leading to Onam, Navaratri (Dassera) and Deepavali (Diwali) and other observances. With the opening of borders, the possibilities of bringing in artistes and performers from other countries are also being utilised by organisers.

As a result, almost all weekends and popular venues are booked up to the end of November.

About Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi, also called Vinayaka Chaturthi, in Hinduism, 10-day festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha, the God of prosperity and wisdom. It begins on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.

Papakura (South Auckland) Ganesha Temple Chief Priest Chandru Parameswaran in 2007
(INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

At the start of the festival, idols of Ganesha are placed on raised platforms in homes or elaborately decorated outdoor tents. The worship begins with the Pranapratishhtha, a ritual to invoke life in the idols, followed by shhodashopachara, or the 16 ways of paying tribute. Amid the chanting of Vedic hymns from religious texts like the Ganesh Upanishad, the idols are anointed with red sandalwood paste and yellow and red flowers. Ganesha is also offered coconut, jaggery, and 21 modaks (sweet dumplings), considered to be Ganesha’s favourite food.

At the conclusion of the festival, the idols are carried to local rivers in huge processions accompanied by drumbeats, devotional singing, and dancing. There they are immersed, a ritual symbolising Ganesha’s homeward journey to Mount Kailash, the abode of His parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.

Ganesh Chaturthi assumed the nature of a gala public celebration when the Maratha Ruler Shivaji (1630-1680) used the occasion to encourage the nationalist sentiment among his subjects, who were fighting the Mughals. In 1893, when the British banned political assemblies, the festival was revived by the Indian nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Today, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in Hindu communities worldwide and is particularly popular in Maharashtra and many parts of Western India.

Lord Ganesha, the Remover of All Obstacles (File Photo)

In Auckland, the festival will begin on August 31, 2022.

In South Auckland suburb of Papakura, which houses the Deity of ‘Pillayarpatti Vinayagar,’ or the Deity of Lord Ganesha as ‘found’ in ‘Pillayarpatti, a small town about 12 km from Karaikudi and about 70 km from Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

The Temple is believed to be more than 2500 years old.

Thiru Subramaniyar Aalayam in Mangere, the New Zealand Thirumurugan Temple in Otahuhu will also celebrate ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ with special Poojas.

The Papakura Temple will witness special prayers for about three weeks, while poojas will be in the mornings, on some days as early as 5 am and continue until 8 pm, with Poojas, Mangala Aarthi and Mahaparasadam.

The Observance

Ganesh Chaturthi is observed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (Mid-August to Mid-September) and is observed by devoted Hindus all over the world from two to 11 days. Maharashtrians, like their Hindu compatriots worldwide, induct their children into learning with ‘Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha.’

Ganesha Chaturthi, the great Ganesha festival, also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. A life-like clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months before the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet.

On the day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is called ‘Pranapratishhtha’. After this, the ‘Shhodashopachara’ (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 ‘Modakas’, 21 ‘durva’ (trefoil) blades and red flowers are offered. The idol is anointed with red unguent or sandal paste (Rakta Chandan). Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.

Street Procession

For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing, and singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolising a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all man. All join in this final procession shouting “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” (O father Ganesha, come again early next year). After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.

The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents. These also serve as the venue for free medical checkups, blood donation camps, a charity for the poor, dramatic performances, films, devotional songs, etc. during the days of the festival.

Swami Sivananda Recommends

On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahma muhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it.

Don’t forget to look at the moon on that day; remember that it behaved unbecomingly towards the Lord. This really means avoid the company of all those who have no faith in God, and who deride God, your Guru and religion, from this very day.

Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.

May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path! May He bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!

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