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Trinidad and Tobago Celebrates Ganesh Utsav
The Hindu community is currently celebrating Ganesh Utsav and the auspicious occasion will culminate over this long weekend with many temples heading to the rivers and seas for the visarjan (immersion) of the Ganesh murti (a clay model).
Ganesha is the Hindu God commonly known as the remover of obstacles. He is also the Lord of success and destroyer of evils. Ganesh Utsav is Lord Ganesha’s birthday which is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhado every year – usually between the months of August and September (depending on the moon). As one pundit told REC, “Ganesh Utsav is now celebrated for those who yearn for success in all their undertakings. It is a very powerful and auspicious period in the Hindu calendar.”
So how is Ganesh Utsav celebrated? Approximately two weeks before the period (of Ganesh Utsav), dirt is removed from the river and then used to make a murti of the Lord Ganesh. Individuals involved in making the murti must maintain a fast for about 21 days before the dirt is dug and must continue to fast for the rest of the period.
The murti is made and painted pink in colour. It is covered until it is ready to make its journey from where it was made to a temple. The murti is brought out on the chowth or the fourth day of the new moon and (on that day) the Ganesh Utsav begins. Usually, a large procession follows the Ganesh murti to the temple. Ganesh bhajans are played and the vehicle carrying the murti is beautifully decorated. The murti is then placed in a temple where puja (Hindu prayer ceremony) is done three times a day and scriptural readings are done every night. Devotees are invited to make offerings on a daily basis during this period of time. At the end of the period, on the final day of Ganesh Utsav – this is the day before Pitri Patch (a time which is given to honour our ancestors) begins – the murti is taken to the river, again followed by a jubilant procession, where it is re-immersed (at the same place from where it came).
In recent times, many have expressed concern over the materials used to make the murti and the impact on the environment. After interviewing several pundits and murti-makers, REC was assured that the materials are environmentally friendly.
So what does the festival symbolise? According to the pundit, “one aspect of what this festival is meant to symbolise the removal of the ego. The pundit related a story taken from Hindu scriptures. “Ganesh is also known as Ganapati – gana are the followers of Lord Shiva who is Pati (the lord of all ganas). Due to a battle between Lord Shiva and Ganesh, his head was removed and was replaced with an elephant’s head. “The removal of the head” explained the pundit, “symbolises the removal of the ego and the ganas really represent the senses. The senses have the ability to rule an individual and to become ganapati one has to conquer the senses. In order to do that you have to conquer the ego” he said. “Lord Shiva removed Ganesh’s head and replaced it with an elephant’s head. When you remove the ego, you are now ready to conquer the senses. Ganesh was only able to become Ganapati when he was able to conquer the senses earning him the right to sit on the lap of Shiva.”
Happy Ganesh Utsav to the Hindu community.
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