It’s one of my most favorite times of the year again :). Ganesh Chaturthi… I am from the coastal city of Mangalore and here we call it CHOUTHI :). So what is Chouthi ? Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and Chouthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is also a symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. On this day, we pray to God that every new task or job we start is successfully done without any obstacles. Also to grant us with good health and happiness. Now that you know what Chouthi is, let me tell you a little about how important this festival to me is.
In Hinduism there are so many Gods and Goddesses.If you ask me which god do i believe in the most, I would say Ganapathy :). To explain why, let me put it this way. We all know mothers are the next best thing to God or rather Mothers are equal to God. So when someone says Mother, my Mom ‘s face comes to my mind. I see God in her. Similarly you will see your mother’s face although you know that even other mothers love their children equally. It is just that we can relate so much to our own Mom as we have seen her unconditional love and we have grown up following her beliefs and learnings. Similarly when we say God, I get Ganapathy’s face as he has been the one I believe in the most, from the time I have learnt to pray. He inspires me a lot and gives me strength and confidence from within. He is like my friend and hears me out through prayers. So yes, for me it’s Ganapathy above all. Amir Khan rightly said in 3 idiots movie that our heart is very weak, we need to keep reassuring that it’s going to be fine by saying ‘ALL IZ WELL’ :). It is the same thing. In moments of despair, when we doubt ourselves or when things are not under control, we need to reassure ourselves. I get that by praying. That brings confidence in me and I am assured that there is someone looking out for me and it is going to be okay. Praying also teaches us the act of gratitude by being thankful for what we have. Basically it gives us a channel to express ourselves.
Well, enough of this philosophy. It might be very clear by now that i loveeee Lord Ganapathy 🙂. Chouthi is one of the most important and celebrated festival in my maternal family. So let me tell you about how my family celebrates it.
My maternal side family is a huge one, quite literally too :P. My mom has 8 siblings, 6 boys and 3 girls including herself. I have around 18 cousins and most of them are married, so their spouses to add on.About 35 to 40 people gather in one house and there is total chaos. A chaos that you like to be in. I would call it ‘WONDERFUL CHAOS’ :).The decoration of the pooja Mantap starts the previous night. Oh! I forgot to tell you, the Ganapathy idol that our family worships isn’t the one which we do Visarjan. What is Visarjan ? Well it is nothing but the idol immersion into the sea/river or any water body and usually done for idols made out of mud. But ours is made of silver and is passed on to generations. My grandpa received it from his father when he was a small boy and my grandpa used to conduct the official pooja until 3 years back when he passed away :(. Now it is passed on to my eldest uncle and he performs the pooja.This particular Ganapathy idol has been there for more than 200 years in my family. Isn’t that spectacular? It has been passed on to so many generations and we still pray with the same devotion :). It is indeed a grand event for our whole family. So here is the silver idol.
Below is the Ganesha mantap for idol, flowers for decoration and the pooja mantap set up the previous night.
On Chouthi day we have to prepare the Ganesha Mantap where the idol will be placed. My uncle performs the customs. Here it is. He is all set 🙂
Every year the mantap is decorated with different themes. This year it was the arecanut(betel nut)leaves and flowers theme. It looked so so beautiful, we couldn’t take our eyes off :). So once the idol is placed in the Ganesha mantap, uncle will place it on the pooja mantap in the centre.Look how gorgeous the Lord looks.
There are lamps and diyas lit around, pooja thali has been kept ready, aarthi is getting prepped up. Then for around an hour my uncle goes through all the stotras basically asking for the family’s prosperity.
Once this is done, ladies will gather together and sing bhajans in Lord Ganesha’s praise.Then we place all the food as prasadam in front of God. Now it is time for aarti. There are 3 levels in this. The small aarti, medium one and a big aarthi. Everyone stand up to pray holding their palms in namaste position and my uncle does the aarti. Oh what a beautiful sight indeed!
I close my eyes every now and then to pray deeply.I am filled with emotions and have tears in my eyes. I see everyone around me joining hands and praying with utmost dedication. Then we offer a pradikshina(turning round in a circle with hands joined ) to God. After this it’s time to make a harake(heartfelt wish).Once that is done we do another pradakshina. Then it’s time to prepare the Naivedya.Naivedya is the offering to God and should be done before we recieve the prasadam.This Naivedya will be on 2 banana leaves. All the married ladies come forward one by one and serve the food on the leaf and here is the final look :).
Then we seek blessings from the the eldest family member, my Grandma and she applies Shri Gandha (sandal paste) on our forehead. Then my uncle offers theertha(holy water) to everyone, one at a time. Then there is a prarthane(prayer). We all pray in unison for the well-being and prosperity of our family :). So after this the pooja is officially complete.
Its 4 pm by the time all this done and everyone is super hungry. Now comes the hogging part:).All the finger licking good food. We sit on the floor and banana leaves are laid in front of us and food is served.There are countless items and each one tastes better than the other:). Now you might ask where is the pic ..well I was so hungry that i forgot to click pictures..sorry :(…Then we had a nice family time, chit chatting and laughing. A day well spent 🙂 .
Do you have any questions on this? Did you celebrate Chouthi? Do let me know in the comments :)..
Until then, XOXO, WWGal