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Monday, January 24, 2011

Malpractices during Sree Ganesh Chaturthi festival

Malpractices during Sree Ganesh Chaturthi festival


Table of Contents

1. History of the public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi

2. Lokmanya Tilak's goal

3. The state of current public Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations outside India

1. History of the public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi

In 1894, Lokmanya Tilak himself placed an idol of Lord Ganesh in Vinchurkar Wada, Maharashtra, India and began this practice.
2. Lokmanya Tilak's goal

Prior to starting this public celebration the social scenario of the Hindus was not stable. Hindus were not very keen on practicing their religion. They were disunited. Indians were cowed down by the supremacy of Westerners. The natural prowess of the Indians was suppressed by this state of affairs

Observing all of this, Lokmanya Tilak took the initiative of starting a public celebration of the festival, keeping in mind the below goals:

To create awareness among Hindus about religion through programs organised during the public celebration of Sree Ganesh Chaturthi.

To nullify the feelings of animosity in society.

To make people aware of their rights and duties.

To rejuvenate good religious customs.

To commence campaigns essential in those times.

To activate the energies present naturally in society and those generated traditionally.

A lack of understanding of the spiritual significance of the festival, has led to a lack of faith and devotion, in performing the celebrations. One obtains the maximum benefit from a ritual if it is performed with faith and intense devotion. One can perform rituals with most faith when one understands the science behind the rituals and performs them in accordance with spiritual principles. Otherwise, one forgoes the invaluable spiritual benefits, like the indescribable experience of the Deity’s (Lord Ganesh’s) presence, inner peace (shaanti), bliss (aanand), etc., from the celebration.
3. The state of current public Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations outside India

Hindus outside India tend to view public celebrations of Hindu festivals like Sree Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaraatri, Diwaali, etc., more as cultural/social events than religious ones. It is seen as an opportunity to getting in touch with the local Indian community, to dress in Indian garments and jewellery that one does not get to use frequently, watch some Indian films or locally produced cultural programmes, etc. It is an effort to re-live the social customs from “back home”.

Neither the attendees nor the organisers are truly aware of the spiritual significance of the festival; hence, no spiritual benefit is attained from it. The rituals do not begin on time, loud music is played and the attendees are found talking about their worldly achievements. Instead they should be focused on deriving spiritual benefit through service unto God replete with spiritual emotion (sevaabhaav), reciting Lord Ganesh’s hymns, chanting mentally and trying to feel Lord Ganesh’s presence in a saattvik, tranquil atmosphere.

Children are found playing in front of the idol, sometimes even running around the hall with their shoes on. There is no awareness that the idol can be activated with the actual presence of Lord Ganesh if we treat it reverentially and behave in a devotional manner during the function.

Instead of religious discourses, cultural programs of song and dance are arranged. Since the science behind the rituals is not imparted, attendees, especially children, do not participate in it whole-heartedly and end up feeling alienated towards the religion.

A ritual is usually done to invoke that deity’s (in this case, Lord Ganesh’s) presence at the location of the celebration, but if a non-religious and social atmosphere prevails during the ritual, naturally the deity (Lord Ganesh), will not manifest there. Thus we hardly derive any spiritual benefit of that deity’s presence during the celebration, despite organising it and participating in it with much effort, expense and time taken from our busy schedules.

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