Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha।
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvada॥
Everything good in the Sanatan Dharma starts by invoking the Elephant God since the belief is that he is supposed to be the one who chases away evil. It is due to certain restrictions that our Vedic culture put; stopping its spread else like the Elephant God’s statue found in South-east Asia, the religion too would have had it’s mark across the globe.
Ganesha’s significance can hence be felt in each and every occasion or festival. The two major festivities associated with him are Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi and Maghi Ganesh Jayanti or Varad Chaturthi. While the first one is more popular and is recognised as a holiday in many states across the country the second one is more relevant as his birth anniversary across Maharashtra and it's Konkan belt.
Even though a majority feels that the former is his birthday it actually is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Lord Ganesha and his mother Parvati from Kailasa (heavenly abode) to earth. A practice which has been going on since the times of the Maratha rulers of yore, it gained more prominence since the push was given by Lokmanya Tilak for the same during the freedom struggle.
Whilst Maghi Ganesh Jayanti is a more traditional celebration of the birth of the elephant god and another lore associated with it, that of the Moon mocking Ganesha’s appearance leading to a curse on the Moon to wax and wane every 15 days.
This prominently shows that even though the latter was a celebration intended to be of more importance how the freedom movement led to Ganesh Chaturthi gaining prominence across the country and being celebrated by the Hindu diaspora across the world. Festival hence remain a mirror of how the importance of a certain ritual is viewed by the society and hence, the act of defiance towards the Colonial rule turned a minor festivity into a major one.
(The writer is a storyteller and author of 'The Midas Touch' and 'The Monk's Secret')