The Significance Of The Worship Of Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha is worshipped in different names and forms through out India and abroad. This elephant-headed, pot-bellied God is the most popular amongst all Hindu Gods and He is widely worshipped by one and all, irrespective of caste, creed, age or sex.
He is the eldest son of Shiva. He is the leader of all Boota-Ganas. He is called 'Vinayaka,' meaning there is no 'nayaka,' leader above Him. He is the remover of all obstacles. So he is called Vigneswara.
No Hindu ritual or auspicious act is ever undertaken without invoking His Grace. It is believed that no action can ever fail if Ganesha is invoked at the very beginning of any endeavour.
He is the main deity in 'Ganapathyam' way of worship. Ganapathyam is one among the six ways of worship - the others being Saivism,Vaishnavism, Kaumaram, Saktam and Souram. There is a upanishad called 'Ganapathyopanishad' which glorifies Lord Ganesha.
There are some practices in worshipping this Lord. These practices symbolise certain ideals. For example, breaking the coconut at the 'Garbha Griha' (sanctom) represents offering of the Devotee's 'Uttama Anga' the best part of the body, the head of the Lord, in the form of surrendering to Him. Breaking the coconut outside in the temple premises represents breaking the 'Ahankara (the I ness, the ego) into pieces, then the nectar of divinity is revealed as the sweet coconut water.
There is a custom called 'Dhobihi Karanau.' It is done by crossing the hands, touching both ears, and squatting and getting up immediately several times in succession. It actually resembles a drill. Another custom is to gently hit both the temples with closed fists. This is very commonly done in Vinayaka temples by both young and old. The idea is when this act is performed, a certain nerve in the head gets revived and it activates the brain, so that the devotee will have bright intellect - bright memory to gain and retain the knowledge.
Ganesha is always pleased when Modakams are offered to Him. He always holds one in His hand. This sweet ball represents the Poomatvam - fullness of the Universe.
His body is very heavy, while He rides a small mouse. This feature represents the fact that even though He is mighty, He makes Himself light for His devotees' sake by residing in their hearts. He sacrificed His beloved ivory tusk for writing the Dharma Sastra-the Mahabharatha. This represents the fact, that any sacrifice is worth for the establishment of Dharma.
Lord Ganesha is present in the 'Omkara' form, representing the Brahman. He is the Para Brahman. He has many names like Ekadanta, Heramba, Lambodara, Soorpa Karna, Skanda Poorvaja, Gananayaka, Ganapathi, Ganeswara, Vinayaka, Vigneswara, Sthoola Kaya and more.
Lord Ganesha's birth festival falls in the month of Bhadrapada – Chaturthi, the 4th day of the bright half of the Lunar month (Suklapaksha). His image is freshly installed in houses and also in public places and He is worshipped elaborately with pomp and show for a day or up to chaturdasi (10 days). After the worship the images are immersed in the water bodies and await for His arrival the corning year.
May the Lord Ganesha remove all our obstacles in our way of progress in spiritual studies.
About the author
This article is written by Mrs.Rajalakshmi Chari for the 'Vedanta Vani' magazine of Chinmaya Mission.