August is the month when chants of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ are heard in every nook and cranny of our Indian subcontinent. Every reverent Indian knows and understands the significance of this slogan. Welcoming, taking good care and then bidding adieu to Lord Ganesha is the course of action taken throughout this festival. This God is said to bring prosperity and remove obstacles in the life of a person. Also known specifically as the God of new beginnings, this festival celebrates His birth. Ganesha is the son of Parvati and Shiva, another important God in the Hindu culture. Deeply respected and loved as a friend to all, the essence of Ganesha brings forth hope and instills harmony among the people.
The celebration lasts for 10 days and starts with welcoming this God into homes. Caring for him, singing lullabies, offering food and sweets to him and nurturing him like a baby is a common aspect of the course of the celebration. On the 10th day, the ‘Visarjan’ occurs. Ganesha is carried on a pedestal through corridors and out on the streets, with a constant showering of flowers and rhythmic chants, accompanied by a large procession to a water body e.g. a river, sea or ocean, and then faithfully returned to his parents by immersing him into the same. The clay dissolves and the God is believed to reunite with his family back at Mount Kailash. This gives us an idea of how everyone has to return to our Creator and, as is so beautifully represented by this auspicious occasion, how Nature follows a cycle.
The significance of this festival, as our elders point out for us every time, has been etched on our minds. The open-heartedness with which Ganesha is embraced and the melancholic happiness with which he is sent to his parents make this event all the more cherished in every heart. But it is equally necessary to understand how while celebrating this deemed festival, each community has to take care of the quintessence and spirit of the same. It is our moral duty to acknowledge the fact that Ganesh Chaturthi, observed for this God who is believed to protect, safeguard and bring prosperity into all lives, is not to be commemorated as a means of disregarding everything he stands for. The basic idea is to respect the environment, our Creator has so very beautifully and delicately crafted. Even Ganesha declares this. Do you know how?
‘’Let this day be a celebration for all
On my birth, let the elements make a call;
Air, water, land or soil
Keep them pollution free, without foil;
I was born from clay, from turmeric
Let me be the same, be earthen, do share it’’
What does this saying represent?
It says that Nature, as an entity, as something which preserves our life, can satisfy our every need, our requirements. It is infinite, self-sacrificing and unconditional in providence. It has created us, human beings, as the utmost power, superior to all species but equally responsible for all too. We must embed this fact into our minds that “WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!”
Nature is devoted to us and dotes on us but we have to respect its sanctity and preserve its trust. The first and foremost action is to do what it says. The importance of using natural clay for making idols on Ganesh Chaturthi is the basic principle that is to be comprehended. This has been thoroughly mentioned in all religious scripts. It not only has an environmental significance but a religious one too. People in the earlier times crafted idols of Ganesha using clay dough made at home. They put their love and devotion, their mind and body, their time and hard work into building these glorious figurines. By doing so, they gave Nature what it deserved: Utmost Respect. This is just one aspect of environmental conservation whilst enthusiastic celebration.
“He who created us is being remade
Do you think his essence is properly repaid?
We may have our beliefs to worship him
But harming Existenceis a sin;
Just pray from your heart, he stays inside
Worship Nature, in that Ganesha takes pride”
With the advent of professionalism and industry, incidences of crafting Ganesha idols at home have considerably reduced. People, no matter how devoted, have started welcoming ready-made idols instead. Though the devotion stays but some reverence and benevolence is lost. Family time, inclusion of each and every member to make the idol, tears of mothers as they silkily shape the friendly God of opulence while singing serenades, story time with grandparents about the childhood of Ganesha and even the valued attitude of fathers towards the festival, each and every aspect is slowly fading away. This is making families grow apart, which in our world of ‘nuclearism’, is a shove in the dark. Blessed were people from the past who could experience such priceless moments during celebrations!
What we as protectors of Mother Nature should cognize is that,
“Protection of our integrity, worship, values and beliefs is mandatory to survival”
We deeply respect communities and have faith in an eco-friendly peaceful diverse society. Hence, to ease way for all Ganesha believers, some useful tips for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi have been penned down. Now that the festival has been celebrated, we look forward to people implementing the given guidelines in future. We swear by our faith in ENVIRONMENTALISM that no one would benefit more by following through with these ideas than the believers themselves. Our faith makes us strong, so why not strengthen it further by not jotting down problems but the solutions. Why not think positively and respect our Nature as humbly as we respect its protector. A beautiful verse says it all:
“God has made this world
With His golden pen of beauty
To care for Mother Nature
Is our moral duty”
Our principles define us. Let’s reinforce them now more than ever: