Celebrate an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi

Friends, Ganapati is worshipped by all Hindus; Ganapati is the Deity of Knowledge. If He had not bestowed intellect on us, we would not have been able to study. Ganapati is the Deity who gives happiness to everyone. We must celebrate festival of such Deity as per the shastras so that we can acquire the grace of Ganapati.

Friends, don’t we feel happy as Ganesh Chaturthi approaches ? Today, we are going to see how Ganesh Chaturthi is to be celebrated according to shastras. We shall also see the meanings of various names of Ganapati and how to stop malpractices taking place during the celebration of this festival.

1. Background of public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi (Saarvajanik Ganeshotsava)

1.A. To do away with narrow-mindedness amongst people and instill the expansive thought of ‘My village and my Ganapati’ : Friends, Lokamanya Tilak started public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. Earlier, Ganapati was installed in every house; we do that even now. So why did Tilak start public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi ? It was started so that the outlook of people did not remain restricted to their homes but so that people could come together by keeping aside their differences. By doing this the feeling of unity, team spirit would grow and rather than the narrow minded, ‘my home, my Ganapati’, the thought of ‘my village, my Ganapati’ gets instilled in everyone.

1. B. To grow unity : In those days, the British used to oppress people; therefore, it was the purpose of Tilak that people should get united under adverse circumstances. Today, we are facing many problems like terrorism and therefore, we should be united to fight against these problems.

2. Lack of Dharmashikshan leads to malpractices in Ganesh Chaturthi

Friends, Ganesh Chaturthi should be celebrated as per the shaastras; only then will we be bestowed with the grace of Shri Ganesh. Since we don’t have any knowledge about the matters related to Dharma, neither do we know the true meaning of ‘Ganesh’, nor do we know the manner of ritualistic worship (puja) of Shri Ganesh as told in the shaastras. This has led to many malpractices creeping into the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. We can acquire Ganapati’s grace only after preventing such malpractices.

2.a. How to celebrate Ganeshotsava as per science?

2.a.1. Decorations used during the festival

2.a.1.a. Decoration should be ‘sattvik’ and eco-friendly : Friends, we decorate the place where Ganapati is to be installed at least a couple of days prior to the festival. The decoration should be ‘sattvik’ and not detrimental to the environment – it can be made from bamboo or banana shoots. If natural materials are used, they can be immersed as they are biodegradable. Also, if the materials used for decoration are durable and are kept in the house after the festivities, the frequencies of Ganesh principle that get imbibed in such things, can benefit every member of the house and it also makes the atmosphere in the house joyful.

2.a.1.b. Use of paper for making small flags : We can make use of paper for making small flags for decoration and such decoration also looks  good. Paper can be immersed later.

2.a.1.c. Mango leaf festoons : Mango leaves should be used for making festoons as it helps imbibe frequencies of Ganesh principle and it prevents pollution.

2.a.2. Avoid decorations which are improper and detrimental to environment

2.a.2.a. Thermocol increases pollution : Lack of knowledge about science is the reason that thermocol is commonly used for decorations. It does not dissolve in water on immersion. If it is burnt, it emits a poisonous gas; which means, we increase pollution. Friends, will Ganapati like this? Shouldn’t our decorations be pollution-free?

2.a.2.b. Unnecessary use of electric bulbs : Nowadays, we use a lot of electric bulbs for decorations. Many strings of coloured bulbs are used, wasting electricity and that also hampers acquiring benefit of Ganesh principle. Friends, it is our duty towards the Nation to save electricity. It will also help us acquire grace of Shri Ganesh. Friends, this year, we have to save electricity and conserve national energy. We know that there is no electricity in many villages. In cities also, there are frequent power cuts; therefore, as a responsible and alert citizen of this country, it is necessary to perform our duty towards the Nation. Besides our beloved Ganapati will also like it.

2.a.3. How should a Ganesh idol be?

2.a.3.a. Ganesh idol should be of 1-2 feet high  and should not be very big : Friends, Ganesh idol should be 1-2 feet  high; but lack of Dharmashikshan makes people construct idols 20-25 feet high. It is difficult to take care of such big idols. During immersion, such big idols are pushed/thrown into water causing denigration of the Deity. You won’t like if Shri Ganesh is denigrated, will you? Then we should educate people against bringing huge idols.

2.a.3.b. Idol made of eco-friendly clay should be used rather than PoP : According to Dharma-shastra, the idol of Shri Ganesh should be made of clay as it is eco-friendly. Nowadays, idols are made of Plaster of Paris, which don’t dissolve easily in water; as a result, broken parts of undissolved idols come out of water causing desecration. Such desecration of our beloved Ganesh is not proper, isn’t it? We should create an awareness amongst people to bring home only those idols that are made of clay.

2.a.3.c. Use of idols made of paper pulp is improper : Idol made of paper pulp should not be worshipped. Idol made of clay has more capacity to attract Ganesh principle, a quality not present in paper. Hence it will not benefit the person performing ‘puja’ of Ganapati.

2.a.3.d. Idols painted with natural pigments should be used instead of chemical colours : Chemical colours are used for painting idols to make them bright and attractive. but natural pigments/colours should be used so that after the immersion of idols, the colours will not cause pollution. Our ‘Dharma-shastra’ has thought about taking care of each and every aspect of the environment ! Friends, we must tell people to bring idols painted with natural colours as that will help conserve the environment.

2.a.3.e. Ganapati idol should be made as per the original form instead of in various weird forms : Idol should not be sculpted in different weird forms. Nowadays, idols are made according to the whims and fancies of people. Idols are made in the form of some leader, sportsperson or a Saint. We should educate people against doing this. Friends, will you like if your parents are shown in a different form? Idol of Ganapati should be in the original form; then only  it will absorb His principle and we will get benefit from such idol. So, will you oppose to bringing such different idols?

​2.a.4. How should be one’s spiritual emotion (Bhav) when the Ganapati idol is brought home?

2.a.3.a. ‘God is actually coming to our house’ ! : While bringing home the idol, we should have the ‘bhav’ that God is really coming to our house. One should chant while bringing the idol. We can sing devotional songs. Nowadays, we see that film songs are played when idols are brought home. It is very wrong to play such songs and dance indecently. It is also wrong to talk unnecessarily and burst crackers. Friends, will Ganapati like to come to our home if it has such an atmosphere? If our behaviour is such which will be liked by God, only then will we acquire Ganapati’s grace and God will like to come to visit us.

2.a.5. How to get benefit of Ganapati’s coming home?

2.a.5.a. Chant Ganapati’s name and pray to Him : We should chant the name of Ganapati when He comes home, try to talk to Him; pray and mentally worship Him (manas-puja). Devotional songs can be sung in His praise ‘aarti’ performed with Bhav. The ‘aarti’ songs should be recited with Bhav and in a proper tune. What do we see today? A few children, get engrossed in playing cards, watching cricket matches or TV serials. With the visuals of fighting, killing etc. shown in TV serials, their mind gets diverted from God. We should avoid this; only then we can acquire the grace of Shri Ganesh.

2.a.5.b. Screaming out an aarti is like insulting the Deity ! : ‘Aarti’ means calling God with deep yearning; therefore, friends, think whether you are singing ‘aarti’ with such yearning. Screaming out an ‘aarti’ or saying some words forcefully or singing ‘aarti’ to the tune of popular film songs (remixes) should be avoided. When Ganapati is sitting right in front of us, will He like these things? Friends, will you like it if someone standing next to you calls out by shouting at top of his/her voice? No, isn’t it? How can we expect God to like it? It will be denigration and insult of God; so it has to be avoided.

2.a.6. What kind of programs should be organised?

2.a.6.a. Programs that awaken patriotism and devotion should be organised: Organise programs like discourses, ‘keertans’, those of devotional songs (bhajans), plays that awaken devotion, lectures on lives of revolutionaries, plays that awaken patriotism etc. Instead of competitions like dancing to film songs, singing of film songs, musical chairs, etc., arrange competitions like recitation of Ganapati Stotras, etc. It is improper to arrange programs that do not awaken devotion towards God. Don’t take part in such programs; else we will also be committing sin. Let us pray to Ganapati that ‘O  Ganaraya, you only give me strength and the ‘sattvik’ intellect to keep away from such programmes’.

3. It is necessary to make efforts for acquiring grace of Shri Ganesh who is the master of knowledge

Friends, we all are students. A student is one who always tries to gain knowledge. If we want to gain knowledge, we cannot do without the grace of ‘Vidyapati’ (Master of knowledge) – Shri Ganesh. Shri Ganesh Chaturthi is an important day in our life. Also, the intellect that we use for gaining knowledge is bestowed by Shri Ganesh Himself as He is known as ‘Buddhidata’ (one who bestows Intellect). We can gain knowledge if our intellect is ‘sattvik’; therefore, my student friends, we should try our best to acquire the grace of Shri Ganesh. In fact, we must try to obtain maximum benefit of Ganesh principle that comes on the Earth during these days.

– Shri. Rajendra Pavaskar (Guruji), Panvel