Anant Chaturdashi is the last day of the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav. It is generally the tenth or eleventh day after Ganesh Chaturthi, and all the Ganesh idols brought into homes and communities are immersed in the sea or nearby lakes and rivers. On this day, people travel to the waterfront with the idols, large and small, dancing and singing in large processions. Lord Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal excitement.
Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions
Ganesh is also known as The Lord of Success. The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja.
People who consider themselves to be Hindu may not consider themselves to be polytheistic. Most believe there is only one source, and that there are many practices that nurture connection to the source. Yoga is one such practice and a guru might also suggest that Christianity is actually a practice that leads to the source. The “deities” of Hinduism are images used to relate personally to or access personally the Divine.
Consider today how you access the Divine regularly? Do you have an image in your head of what the Divine looks like? Is that image helpful when you are praying or reflecting on the Great Mystery? On this date Ganesh’s are brought back into homes after they has been tended and washed. Are there tangible ways or symbolic ways that your tradition or a tradition that you find relatable, tends images? I invite you to spend some time thinking about how you personally access what you consider as Divine.
Peace and Blessings on this Anant Chaturdashi