Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is the Hindu Festival of Lord Ganesh. For my Cultural Arts Review I have taken a series of pictures form Huffington Post’s article on this year’s festival. In 2013 Ganesh Chaturthi began on September 9th, however by looking at the art depicted in the photographs it is clear that the preparation began months beforehand. Thus before analyzing the intricate art involved in this precious ceremony, it is important to explore the particular values and tradition that are so deeply rooted in the Hindu beliefs, for the reason that those customs are depicted in their art.
Much like one cannot describe the meaning behind the Christian holiday Easter without telling the story of Jesus, it would be impossible to talk about Ganesh Chaturthi without first explaining the role of Lord Ganesh in the Hindu religion. Ganesh is one of the five prime Hindu deities; therefore he is incredibly pervasive in the minds of the Hindu masses. In the pictures from Huffington Post he is depicted as an elephant with a curved trunk, big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. These pictures are all very standard representations of the Ganesh’s traditional representations as the god of wisdom, prosperity, and good fortune. The importance of these present-day photographs is that they reflect the significance behind Ganesh’s traditional form. For example, Ganesh’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence; whereas his body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom, and its trunk represents “Om” which is the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesh holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in his left hand is symbolizes a calming assurance to capture all difficulties. In his lower right hand he holds his broken tusk, which represents sacrifice, and lastly the rosary in his lower left hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. When dissecting Ganesh’s connection with Hinduism, it is important to realize that there are many details in Hindu art that symbolize many years of traditional beliefs.
After realizing that Hindu art is extremely detailed and symbolic to their customs, one can more clearly understand the significance of all that is going on behind the scenes of the ten day Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration. This festival is celebrated all over India and among the Hindu, and in an especially grand manner in Maharashtra. Before the festival even begins skilled artisans (shown in many of the pictures) begin preparing clay models of Ganesh that range from 1 inch to over 70 feet. The full body picture of statue of Ganesh and Hindu devotees in the Huffington Post’s album is of a real 2013 sculpture that is 56 feet tall! As followers prepare to bring Lord Ganesh into their homes, houses are cleaned, and delicious sweets are prepared. The ten day celebration consists of many hours of worship in the form of special prayers, devotional chanting and singing. On the 11th Day, Ganesh statue is taken through the streets that are full of celebration, and culminates with the immersion of the idols in water. As you can tell by the photographs, it takes an arduous amount of effort for the dunking of Ganesh as the statues are extremely heavy. In all of the photographs there is a portrayal of the sheer respect and importance that this ceremony is to the devotees, as all of them have put a large amount of effort into the various intricate preparations for the Ganesh Chaturthi to take place.
- Ganesh chaturthi celebrations (bachpanmadhapur.wordpress.com)
- Ganesh Chaturthi Festival (shantisimone.wordpress.com)