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This Ganesh Chaturthi know a little more about the festival and celebrate it wisely, writes SHIKHA JAIN

The last day of Jain festival – Paryushan Parva will see Lord Ganesha arrive. While Jains seek to purify their souls by seeking forgiveness for any kind of sin committed, Hindus prepare to celebrate the birth of Ganesha, with full zeal and enthusiasm.

Birth of the first lord

An interesting story behind Lord Ganesha’s birth is that his mother Parvati had once created a human figure and instilled life in it, asking it to guard the door while she had gone for a bath. During this time, Lord Shiva came to see his wife after a prolonged period of meditation on Mount Kailash. When stopped by the human figure from entering the house, Lord Shiva was outraged and cut off the former’s head. Very soon, Shiva came to know that the human figure was created by Parvati. So, he sent his attendants to look for the head of the first living object they could find.

The attendants found an elephant and cut off its head to place it on the human figure’s body so as to bring him back to life. This is why Lord Ganesha is seen to have an elephant head. He is also known as Ganpati or chief of the “Ganas” or Lord Shiva’s attendants.

A few facts

Apart from being known for his 108 different names, Ganesha is also considered to be the god of wisdom and prosperity, arts, literature, knowledge and education. He is honoured at the onset of any ritual and ceremony since he is venerated as the god of beginnings as well.

The 10-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi incorporates four main rituals – Pranapratishhtha – the process of infusing the deity into a murti or idol, Shhodashopachara – 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha, Uttarpuja – Puja after which the idol could be shifted after its infusion, Ganpati Visarjan – immersion of the idol. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak changed the festival from a private celebration to a grand public event to bridge the gap between different castes and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grass-root unity between them. Today, awareness is growing about celebrating the festival in a manner that is friendly to the environment.