Vinayaga Chathurthi / Vinayagar/
Chathuthi Festival / Birth
of Vinayaga / Celebration
/ Vinayaga - Master of Knowledge
/ Arukkampul Priyan (Fresh Green Grass)
/ Elephant Faced Mushika Vahanan
/ The Trunk / Large
Ears / The Pot-Belly / The
Hand / The Foot / The
Modakam / The Pasam / Ankusa
/ The Snake / The
Broken Tusk / Stotras And Mantras
/ Vinayagar Forms / Vinayagar
- Hinduism is not merely a way of life. It is
also a science of life. Its concepts are
scientific and based on truths discovered by the
Rishis and Jnanis. People are confused by the
"many gods" of Hinduism. According to Hinduism,
God or Paramporul or Sivam or Brahmam or the Supreme
is Absolute. He is Infinite. However, He
can and does appear and respond in a form. The
different deities of Hinduism are different facets
of God. They show His functions, powers or aspects.
The forms of the Hindu deities are highly symbolic
and they contain many meanings and messages.
- The first prayer of a Hindu is always to Vinayagar. Vinayagar is invoked at the beginning of all ritualistic worship. He is invoked before a family moves into a house. Recitation of holy songs begin with the recitation of a Vinayagar mantra or song.
Vinayagar has a place in the Buddhist temple
and among the Jains. The Chinese
too worship Vinayagar but with a different name.
Vinayagar or Vinayagar-like deities are found
in Indonesia, Japan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Brazil,
Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet, Mongolia and
Polynesia, among other places.
Vinayagar or Ganesha or Ganapati is otherwise
called as Vigneshwara or Vighnaharta, the
Lord of and destroyer of obstacles. When
we do evil things or when the time is not right,
He places obstacles in our path. When we take
the correct path, He removes the root of our troubles.
Vinayagar is also one of the five Gods the worship
of whom was popularized by Adi Shankaracharya;
the other four being Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and
Surya. The worship of these five deities is called
the panchaayatana puja. In some cases,
Skanda is also worshipped.
It is said that Ganesha was born when the eternal
couple contemplated on AUM. If you view Lord Ganesha
sideways, then you will see the symbol AUM in
sanskrit. That's why Ganesha is called AUMkara
and worshipped first. AUM is praNava. What is
meant by praNava. pra is short for prakriti and
navam means excellent boat. That is, AUM is the
way to cross the ocean of worldly existence.
- Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birth
anniversary of Ganesha (Vinayaka), the God of
Wisdom and Prosperity. God Vinayaka is
the Son of God Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. The
principal annual festival of 'Vinayaka' or 'Ganesha'
falls on the fourth day of the bright fortnight
of 'Bhadrapada' (August-September). Constellation
with the appearance of the elephant head is brightly
visible on this very night. In Tamil Nadu, 'Vinayaka
Chaturthi' (as it is known) is very widely celebrated
with special rituals in people's homes, as well
as at Vinayaka's temples and shrines.
- According to a legend, Goddess Parvati created an image of a boy made of clay and gave him life. She made him guard the door when she was taking a bath. The boy was guarding the door without letting anyone inside. When God Siva, Parvati's husband came home, the boy didn't allow him inside, which enraged God Siva who cut off the boy's head. The boy fell dead on the ground. God Siva went inside and Goddess Parvati was terrified by this news. On Goddess Parvati's request, God Siva went looking for a replacement head, when the first living thing he came across was an elephant. He cut off the elephant's head, affixed it to the torso of the boy and gave him new life.
Lord Vinayaka has got an elephant face and human
body. He is worshipped by many names like Vinayaka,
Ganesha, Pillayar, Vigneshwara, Gajanana, Ganapathy,
Mooshika Vahanaa, Modhaga priya etc. He rides
on an animal called mooshika (a large kind
- In our houses we celebrate this pooja in a grand manner. We decorate the floor with kolams using rice flour. On that day we buy a new Vinayaka idol (made of clay). We also buy a decorated umbrella to place behind the idol. On a wooden plank, plantain leaf is placed and raw rice is spread over it. We place the idol on this and decorate with flowers and perform pooja.
Vinayaka likes a dish called mothagam (kozhukkattai).
So different varieties of kozhukkattai are prepared
and offered to the lord on this day. It is the
special item on this day.
On the next day, punar pooja is done. This is the pooja, which acts as an ending to the festival. After this we remove the idol from its place. On the next day after punar pooja, we immerse the idol in water in the sea, well or pond.
For this pooja, different flowers are used. Erukkampoo
(calotropis), thumbaipoo (white small flowers
and arugampul (a type of grass) is very special
for the lord. Different varieties of fruits are
- Master of Knowledge
- Vinayaka is one who drives away all sorrows,
difficulties and miseries. He is the enemy of
all obstacles. He will not allow any obstacle
to come in the way. He is the destroyer of obstacles.
He confers happiness and peace (on his devotees).
He is the master of all those powers (Buddhi
and Siddhi). What is this Siddhi? When there
is purity of mind, you achieve peace (which is
Siddhi). Vinayaka is thus the Lord of Buddhi and
Siddhi (the Intellect and Self-Realisation). Hence,
every human being should acquire control over
Ganesha is the embodiment of intelligence (Buddhi) and achievement (Siddhi). He was approached by sage Vyasa with a prayer to write down the Mahabharatha even as he composed the hundreds of thousands of its verses! Ganesha agreed immediately, He brooked no delay, even to secure a writing too, he broke his pointed tusk and was ready to start.
Priyan (Fresh Green Grass)
- There is a mythological story which reveals how the practice of offering Arukkampul (fresh green grass) to Ganapathi during the Vinayaka Chathurthi festival originated.
Once, the story goes, Parvathi and Parameswara
were playing a game of dice with Nandiswara
(Parameswara's vehicle, the bully as the umpire).
Although Iswara lost the game, Nandi declared
Him as the winner. Enraged at this unfair decision
Parvathi cursed Nandi that he would be afflicted
with an incurable disease. Nandi, seeking Parvathi's
forgiveness, explained that he gave the verdict
in Parameswara's favour because the latter was
his master and his duty as a servant was to serve
him. Parvathi relented and said that Nandi would
be freed from the curse if he offered to her son
Ganapathi what was most relished by Nandi. Nandi
pondered for a moment and declared that what he
loved most as a bull was fresh green grass. He
would offer that to Ganapathi. That was how the
practice of including fresh green grass among
the offerings made to Ganapathi during festival
occasions came into vogue.
Faced Mushika Vahanan
- The esoteric significance of the Elephant headed Ganesha image is: Ganapati has been given the head of an elephant because He is known for His extraordinary intelligence. The elephant is symbolic of extreme intelligence. Vinayaka is the embodiment of intelligence. He is described as Buddhi Vinayak and Siddhi Vinayaka (Vinayaka - the Wise and Vinayaka - the Accomplished)."
The rat runs hither and tether, Man's mind too, ruled by impulses, runs hither and thither. However, he is also capable of being wise, hardworking and strong like the elephant. Man's goal then is to remove his mouse qualities and enter the elephant stage. The huge elephant sitting on a tiny mouse also indicates the truth that the Atman is the same in all, irrespective of size or birth or race.
Another meaning is also given to the mouse. It
moves everywhere unnoticed and steals or destroys
food. Like the mouse, egoism too exists
unnoticed in our minds and silently wrecks havoc
in our lives. When controlled by divine wisdom,
however, the ego can aid progress.
- The elephant trunk is very significant. The
trunk is also its nose. The elephant nose is its
greatest weapon and tool. Similarly, Vinayagar
having the elephant form shows that man's nose
is his greatest weapon and tool. How? Breath-control.
Through breath control man can attain powers.
It can help him expand his consciousness and move
- Vinayagar has large ears. Why? It is to teach
us to talk less and listen more. Many of our problems
with people arise because we listen little but
talk a lot. Before someone can finish saying what
he wants to say, we interrupt. This truth can
be verified at home and at meetings. Ears are
used to gain knowledge. The large ears indicate
that when God is known, all knowledge is known.
- Vinayagar has a huge pot-belly. Why? Vinayagar's
pot-belly suggests that it can contain anything
and everything. His belly is considered to be
the womb of the world. We notice that His belly
is something like that of a pregnant woman
who holds life in her. The difference is that
while the pregnant woman supports one life or
perhaps two or three, Vinayagar supports and sustains
all life. He is the creative energy that brings
forth life. Vinayagar's protruding belly and stories
about His voracious appetite show that He can
digest anything. This indicates that a man of
perfection, the highly evolved man, can digest
anything whether it is pain or pleasure, good
or bad, honor or dishonor. He has attained equilibrium.
- The right hand of the deities in almost all
representations is held in the Abaya posture
with palm facing us. It indicates that he who
surrenders unto Him need not fear anything. Vinayagar
assures us that we should be brave as He is with
the good and noble.
- One foot of Ganesa touches the ground while
the other is folded and rests on the other thigh.
Why? This suggests that while we live in this
world, we must tread the middle path and not
go to extremes. Moderation should be our guide.
- In representations of Vinayagar, He is depicted
as holding the modakam, a sweet cake, in
one hand. There are usually modakam placed in
a tray in front of him or held by His trunk. This
is to show that the spiritually wise man always
finds the world and life sweet as it enables him
to be of service to his fellow beings of God.
It also affords him an opportunity to improve
himself and progress towards Sivagati.
The modakam consists of the outer flour portion
and the inner sweet portion. The inner sweet portion
represents the Supreme. The message is
that man must dive within himself, transcend the
outer, in order to find the inner treasure.
- Vinayagar, just like most other deities, is
always shown holding a Pasa or rein/noose
in one hand. The pasa has been given several interpretations.
The pasa represents desires and feelings that
bind. Uncontrolled desires are the seeds of bondage.
Like the noose they strangle us.
The pasa shows that attachment is the cause
of birth. It also shows the creative aspect
of divinity. It is said that with the pasa (reins),
Vinayagar guides us on the right path. With the
pasa too He maintains obstacles in our path when
we take a wrong turning or when the time is not
right for us to do something. The pasa tells us
we must bind ourselves to God for material and
spiritual progress. For unfoldment we must bind
ourselves through love, thavam and service to
God. It suggests too that we should use our discrimination
to control our desires as this conserves energy
and helps us move upward. The pasa shows He binds
us with His love and will guide us.
- The ankusa is a hook-like instrument.
This too has various related interpretations.
The ankusa symbolizes discrimination, which can
pierce through delusions. It is said that Vinayagar
removes obstacles and troubles in our path
using the ankusa. He helps us be rid of delusions.
The ankusa indicates that we must check our emotions
and passions through strict self-control and thavam.
Like a hook pulling at our flesh, self-control
and thavam will cause pain but it must be done.
We must use our discrimination to control our
lower nature. The ankusa reminds us to break away
from the grip of material entanglements. The ankusa
is also said to stand for anger, which hurts us.
The pasa (attachment) and ankusa (anger)
will not help in spirituality. So we have to get
rid of anger and attachment by surrendering to
Vinayagar. As the ankusa is used for destruction,
it is also said that it shows the destructive
or dissolving power of God.
- Vinayagar is the presiding deity of the Mooladhara
Chakra which is the foundation of the evolutionary,
creative or primeval energy called the Kundalini
Sakti. It is coiled up like a snake when dormant.
When activated, this energy is said to result
in an expansion of consciousness and the unfoldment
of man into Godman. This results in various siddhis
(powers) and therefore we have Siddhi Vinayagar.
Raising this energy to the Sahasrara will bring
enlightenment. A snake normally coils around Vinayagar's
belly. This represents the Kundalini sakti.
It reminds us that we have to awaken this energy
to reach the state of expanded consciousness.
The snake around the belly also shows that everything
in nature (the pot-belly) is supported by energy.
- Vinayagar's right tusk is broken. There
are a few interpretations of this. Some suggest
that it means we should not be trapped between
the pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain
but that we should with conscious effort break
its grip on us. Vinayagar uses the broken tusk
as a writing instrument. This shows that a man
who transcends the pair of opposities becomes
creative. Our right side represents Siva (spiritual)
and the left is Sakti (material). The broken right
tusk indicates that one must break-off the
ego for spiritual fulfillment. In worldly
life however, we need the ego as otherwise we
cannot live. But the ego is worldly life must
be controlled by divine wisdom. The story runs
that Vinayagar and Vyasa participated in a challenge
whereby Vyasa would recite the Mahabharatam without
a pause and Vinayagar would write it down without
stopping. In those days they wrote on palm leaves
with a thick stylus. However, halfway, Vinayagar's
stylus broke but he quickly broke off His tusk
to continue, writing without stopping. This story
indicates that we should be willing to make
sacrifices for any noble cause.
It is said that by reciting
Vinayaga Stotras, mantras and Thevaram songs
we create energy which activates divine faculties
in our consciousness. This helps remove obstacles
that hamper our material and spiritual progress.
What is required is patience and perseverance.
We must apply the Pasa and Ankusa. Also, when
we concentrate on Vinayagar and sing His praises,
we awaken the divine potential in us. Reciting
the following mantra is said to bring auspiciousness:
Aum Sri Ganesaya Namah
Aum Sri Ganesaya Namah
Aum Sri Maha Ganapathiyae Namah
Aum Sri Gam Ganapathiyae Namah.
- Vinayagar is usually said to have 32 different
forms. Among the important forms are: Bala
Ganapati, Taruna Ganapati, Bhakti Ganapati, Vigheswara,
Veera Ganapati, Sakti Ganapati, Dvaja Ganapati,
Siddhi Vinayagar, Uchista Ganapati, Ekatanta Ganapati,
Shristi Vinayagar, Thundi Vinayagar, Yoga Vinayagar,
Vighnaraja, Kshipra Ganapati, Heramba Ganapathi.
- Vinayagar worship is very simple. It
is the most informal too. If we do not
have a statue or picture of Him, no problem. We
can make a conical shape out of clay, earth, wet
turmeric powder or santhanam (sandalwood) paste
and it becomes Vinayagar automatically. Even a
rock or a tree with some bearing to his shape
can be worshipped.
Chaturthi helps us realize the unity of all life.
It teaches us to drop off our ego-centric, individualism
for God-centered universalism.