Ganesha the elephant god

In the Rotary club of Port Louis, whilst I was an active member, it was customary a few days before a holiday that a talk  be given on the essence of the festival. The organising committee wanted to achieve greater understanding of the varied culture of the country so that we may value our differences. I recall the brilliant speech  given by Shyam Seebun on Ganesh Chaturti. He did not restrict himself to commenting on the feast itself, he went on to give his understanding of the Hindu mythology which translated into habits and behaviours which could appear to be unusal  to others.

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Ganesha Chaturthi (IAST: Gaeśa Caturthī, sanskrit: गणेश चतुर्थी) or Ganesha Festival is a day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees. It is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi in Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu, Chavath ( चवथ ) in Konkani and as Chathaa (चथा) in Nepal Bhasa. It is celebrated as it is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). Typically, the day falls sometime between August 20 and September 15. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Ananta Chaturdashi. This festival is observed in the lunar month of bhadrapada shukla paksha chathurthi madhyahana vyapini purvaviddha. if chaturthi prevails on both days, the first day should be taken. Even if chaturthi prevails for complete duration of madhyahana on the second day, but if it prevails on previous day’s madhyahana period even for one ghatika (24 minutes) the previous day should be taken. (Ref. Dharmasindhu and Indian Calendric System, by Commodore S.K. Chatterjee (Retd). Madhyahana is the 3rd / 5th part of the day (Sunrise-sunset).

Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.

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Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius dated back to 1896. The first Ganesh Chaturthi Puja was held at the height of the 7,Cascades Valley in Henrietta by the Bhiwajee family who is still celebrating this pious festival for more than a century.

My first visit ever to India in 1968, must have been during the festival of Ganesh. I recall that in company of Harry Saminaden and Guy Hugnin, we landed at Santa Cruz Bombay international airport and stayed at Nataraj Hotel on the Queen’s Collier area. We were watching the numerous processions God Ganesh all over town. The town of Bombay, the capital of Maharastra is the place of the highest worshippers of Ganesh, the elephant god. I was taken in the crowd to visit the elephant caves, an island off the harbor of Bombay facing the Gate of India monument, where worshippers flocked for the festival. Indeed as a very young traveler I was very impressed with the large crowd, the colorful scenery and the noisy and babbling population.

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