The popular Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated elaborately throughout India. This ten day festival begins on Shukla Chaturthi, the fourth day and ends on Anant Chaturdashi, the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period. It is celebrated as the re-birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God. This festival is also popular as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ and ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ and is also known by several other names. There are many strange and wonderful stories behind the birth of Ganesha and the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi.
There are several stories regarding Ganesh Chaturthi in the book named, Brahma Vivartha Purana, in the section of Ganesha Khanda. Lord Ganesha is regarded as the God of Supreme Self and there are many stories associated with his birth. Lord Ganesha is also recognized as the God of spiritual wisdom, fortune and prosperity.
Here is one popular, but strange story. Goddess Parvati created a human figure out of sandalwood in order to guard in front of the door while she took bath. In another bizarre story, Parvati created a human being out of the dirt of her body while she was bathing. Irrespective of the material of creation, it was the goddess who created the human figure and life was infused in him, and the purpose of creation of the human being was to guard her door for enjoying privacy while bathing. At that time Lord Shiva returned home, but the guard denied entry and Shiva became angry. Unable to tolerate it, Shiva cut off the guard’s head, but the next moment he realized that he had done a serious mistake by slaying a human creation of Parvati. Lord Shiva immediately ordered his attendants (ganas) to bring the head of the first living creature they could find. The first creature they found was an elephant, and they cut off of its head and brought to Lord Shiva. The elephant head was installed on the human body and life infused into it. This elephant headed deity was named Ganapati or Ganesha, which literally means the “chief of attendants of Shiva”. Lord Ganesha is worshipped as the most auspicious God who showers his blessings to marriage ceremonies and all events held for initiating new ventures. Thus Ganesh Chaturthi becomes the celebration of the re-birth of Lord Ganesh.
There is another story regarding the birth of Ganesha which says that upon request of the gods (Devas), Shiva and Parvati created a deity in order to act as a “vighnakartaa” (creator of obstacles) in the path of demons and at the same time as a “vighnahartaa” (one who prevent obstacle) for the Devas.
These marvelous stories behind Ganesh Chaturthi stimulate curiosity and interest within us to know more about the origin of a popular Indian Festival.