The Significance of Ganesha Chaturthi and the Tradition of Giving Gifts
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Among the pantheon of Indian Gods and Goddesses, one of the most popular and loved forms is that of Lord Ganesha. The elephant-headed God is recognised by people across religions and regions. He is loved by the children and elders alike. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ganesha Chaturthi, the festival celebrating Lord Ganesha which arrives in the Indian month of Bhadrapada, is celebrated with much fervour and festivity across the globe. Clay idols of Ganapati (as he is also called) are brought home and worshipped before they are immersed in water bodies like lakes, rivers and the seas.
A Festival That Ushered Freedom
This festival is significant both socially and spiritually. However, during the great Indian freedom struggle, the grand celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi was also coloured by political hues! Let us travel back in time to 1893. The British East India Company had firm control over the many kingdoms and princely states that occupied the country we today call India or Bharat. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, reverentially called ‘Lokamanya’ (respected by the masses), understood that the crux of the Indian problem was the lack of unity.
He decided to use the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi as a means of promoting cultural and political unity among the Indian masses. Under his leadership and vision, the festival transformed from a private household celebration into a grand public event that played a very significant role in the Indian freedom movement. It ushered in unthinkable inclusivity as people across socioeconomic backgrounds participated in it. The platform of Ganesha Chaturthi also helped support artisans. Most importantly, it was a vehicle to inject patriotism through cultural and nationalistic programs.
Lord Ganesha who is considered as the ‘Remover of Obstacles’ truly paved the way for the Indian Independence movement.
A Social Festival
The celebration of the festival only grew in its gaiety and grandeur after India’s Independence in 1947. The political hues have largely vanished and the socio-cultural and spiritual aspects have come to the fore. The festival continues to unite communities and transcend cultural boundaries. The celebrations often involve collaborative efforts of families, neighbourhoods, and sometimes, even entire towns! People come together to create intricate clay idols of Lord Ganesha, which are then installed in homes and public pandals with elaborate decorations. Each Ganesha pandal tries to outdo the other in terms of creativity and uniqueness of the decorations and celebrations and there is an air of healthy competition in the air. The festive spirit is further heightened with group prayers, cultural performances, food, and finally, processions where the deity is taken for immersion in water.
A Unique Ritual And Its Meaning
The deity is normally worshipped for 10 days during which Lord Ganesha is treated reverentially as a VIP guest. The worship involves offering him the choice of foods, clothes and entertainment. In due course of time, he becomes an endearing member of the family. The festival teaches one to not be ‘god-fearing’ but ‘god-loving’ and how to make god a part of one’s daily life.
At the end of the ten days however, the Ganesha idol is immersed in water where it dissolves into the clay that it was made of. Understanding the spirit and the fervour behind this festival truly makes it spiritual. The idol is Mrinmaya which literally means ‘made of mud’ and symbolises ‘the temporary’. It is born from the elements and returns to the elements when immersed in water, only to emerge again the next year to the festival. This represents the never-ending circle of life. At a deeper level, the ritual of immersion teaches the devotee that the Lord is not Mrinmaya but Chinmaya which literally means ‘made of consciousness’ and symbolises that which is non-physical and eternal.
The Beautiful Tradition of Gifting
Exchanging gifts during Ganesha Chaturthi is a cherished tradition that symbolises love, goodwill, and blessings among friends and family. This practice holds cultural importance as it reflects the spirit of togetherness and the desire to share joy and prosperity. Selecting thoughtful and meaningful gifts for loved ones during this festival is a way to express one’s affections and strengthen bonds of love and friendship.
Naturally, presenting Ganesha-themed artefacts lends multiple layers of meaning and significance to the tradition. Apart from being a prayer and wish for obstacle-free lives, these gifts also pay homage to the rich artistry and craftsmanship associated with Indian culture along with the deity. Planet Handcrafted, a digital platform that curates authentic, fine, handcrafted art, is renowned for its collection of exquisite handcrafted products. It offers an authentic space for selecting such gifts this Ganesha Chaturthi. Whether it's a beautifully sculpted Ganesha idol, a hand-painted mural, or intricately carved home decor, these gifts encapsulate the spiritual and artistic aspects of Ganesha Chaturthi. Choosing handcrafted gifts during the festive season also brings in a decent source of income for the artisan communities creating these fine artefacts, thus bringing joy to their families and allowing them to participate equally in the festive spirit.
Planet Handcrafted: A curated assortment of fine, handmade arts
At Planet Handcrafted, you'll discover a diverse range of Ganesha-themed products that beautifully encapsulate the essence of Indian culture and craftsmanship. Each item is a testament to the meticulous attention to detail and cultural authenticity that goes into its creation.
The exquisite Kerala mural paintings showcasing Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, with vibrant acrylic colours and intricate detailing. These promise to become centrepieces of conversation in any living space. Traditional, authentic ‘Pattachitra’ hand paintings of Lord Ganesha delicately and delectably drawn by artists from Odisha with natural colours on tassar silk or cotton fabric are sure to last a lifetime of Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations! They also make beautiful heirlooms for families to treasure. Then, there are the terracotta Ganesha figurines crafted using the Molela art whose origins date back to over 800 years. Each piece is handcrafted by skilled artisans, and the intricate designs and earthy colours reflect the deep-rooted traditions of rural India. For those in love with Madhubani or Mithila art, search for the captivating and extremely decorative painted pieces that celebrate the elephant-headed god in his full glory through their sheer genius.
As we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi, wouldn’t it be perfect to own a timeless piece of Ganesha art, while also sharing the joy with the generational artisan families that create these beautiful pieces?