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Sri Ganesha - Remover of obstacles

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agajAnana padmArkaM gajAnanaM aharniSaM |
anekadaM taM bhaktAnAm EkadantaM upAsmahE ||

"I worship the elephant faced Lord Ganesha day and night, who is like the sun to the lotus face of Mother Parvati. Giver of many boons, the single tusked Ganesh, I salute Thee to give me a boon"

Lord Ganesha is God of knowledge and the remover of obstacles. He is also the older son of Lord Shiva. Lord Ganesha is also called Vinayak (knowledgeable) or Vighneshwara (God to remove obstacles). He is worshipped at the beginning of any auspicious performance for blessings and auspiciousness.

Ganapathi Atharva Seersha Upanishad describes Ganesha as having an elephant's head. He has one tusk (on right side) and four hands. In upper right hand He is holding a noose, a goad in upper left hand and an elephant's tooth in he lower left hand. The lower right hand is giving blessings and granting boons. Lord Ganesha has a mouse as him emblem. He is red in color, with a big stomach and ears like a small fan. He is wearing red colored clothes and His body is smeared with red sandalwood paste. He is worshipped with red flowers. A unique combination of his elephant-like head and a quick moving tiny mouse vehicle represents tremendous wisdom, intelligence, and presence of mind.

Lord Ganesha's human body represents 'tvam', His elephantine countenance representing 'tat' and their joining together signifies the non-difference of 'tvam' (You) and 'tat' (Brahman). Thus, the body of Lord Ganesha is the visible representation of the highest reality, Brahman, realized from 'tat tvam asi'.

Lord Ganesha's ears signify that just as one uses a winnowing basket to separate grains from dirt, one must use discrimination (viveka) to separate the real (Brahman) from the unreal (mAyA). Lord Ganesha's ears indicate that such discrimination between Brahman and mAyA is to be gained by taking recourse to SravaNa or listening, particularly to the scriptures, from a Guru. Lord Ganesha is also known as Ganapathi, the Lord of Categories. All that can be counted or comprehended is a category (gana). The principle of all the classifications through which the relations between different orders of things, between the macrocosm and the microcosm, can be understood is called the lord-of-categories (Ganapathi). The Mudgala Purana, an ancient text on Lord Ganesha, cites His eight forms, prevailing over eight human weaknesses or demons. Ekadanta is the Conqueror of Moda (arrogance); Dhumravarna (smoke colored) overcomes Abhimana (pride); Vakratunda (curved trunk) is the Vanquisher of Matsarya  (jealousy); Mahodara (big belly) is Lord of Moha (infatuation); Gajanana (elephant face) conquers Lobha ( greed); Lambodara (corpulent belly) overcomes Krodha (anger); Vikata (deformed) conquers Kama (lust); Vignaraja (King of Obstacles) prevails over Mamata (egotism).

Ganesha Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. This is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). It is observed throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world. Clay figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, they are immersed into water.

Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated for ten days at the Sri Ganesha Temple. Sri Ganesha Homam and Abhishekam are performed every morning. Lord Ganesha is decorated with a special Alankaram every evening. Some of the Alankarams used are Flowers, Sandalwood, Coins, Dry Fruits, Fruits, Vegetables, Vibhooti and Kumkum. Each evening is culminated with Sri Ganesha Sahasranama Archana.

Sankatahara Chathurthi (4th day of the waning moon) is a monthly day of worship for Lord Ganesha. Every special program at Sri Ganesha Temple starts with Sri Ganesha Homam. Sri Ganesha Abhishekam is performed every morning.

There are many important Ganesha temples in India at the following locations: Wai in Maharashtra; Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Jodhpur, Nagaur and Raipur (Pali) in Rajasthan; Baidyanath in Bihar; Baroda, Dhokala, and Balsad in Gujarat and Dhundiraj Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Prominent Ganesha temples in southern India include the following: the Jambukesvara Temple at Tiruchirapalli; at Rameshvaram and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu; Hampi, Kasargod, and Idagunji in Karnataka; and Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.

 
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