When you adhere to a religion that recognizes the Divine in virtually every conceivable form, you’re bound to have a calendar filled to the hilt with holidays celebrating all manner of holiness. Welcome to Hinduism! So far, the most unfortunate aspect of this is that most of these holidays – even all of them – go pretty much officially unobserved in the United States. Sure, some actually be named on printed calendars and we’ll see media coverage of the holiday’s celebration at the White House, but none are “business closed” holidays. It makes me a little sad, particularly when Ganesha Chathurthi rolls around – it’s unquestionably my favorite holiday next to Diwali – which itself is only in first place for me personally on account of its broader application as a holiday that very Hindu would celebrate, without sectarian concern.
However, if any one god in the Hindu pantheon could be considered “unifying,” then it’s Ganesha. My knowledge is limited and imperfect, but He’s the only god I know of who is worshipped, as He is, by all Hindus. Every god has its own collection of stories and many overlap in ways that could be offensive to some. For example, in some circles Hanuman is understood to be Shiva in disguise and is Vishnu’s biggest fan. I’m not sure I’ve heard stories paralleling this kind of thing that apply to Ganesha. He’s always who He is, and everyone loves and respects Him – to greater or lesser degrees.
Most years, Ganesha Chathurthi falls very near to my own birthday. Although this year it feels like it’s happening later in the year than it has in the recent past (I could be wrong – I haven’t checked on this to be sure) and next year I think it doesn’t occur until very near to the end of September. This year the holiday started on 20140829 and culminates on 20140908 with Ganesha Visarjan.
This link to a page from the Huffington Post does a decent job at explaining the holiday and includes photos for your viewing pleasure. Wikipedia also has an info page on it, of course. That can be viewed here. This Huffington Post Religion page displays a number of photos. On this page, one can find a basic explanation of how the holiday is celebrated. And lastly, here’s a site apparently dedicate solely to the holiday that offers info on how to “do” the holiday.
Below I’ve included a couple videos for your enjoyment and education and below the videos, also for your enjoyment, is a random selection of Ganesha photos – some pertaining to the holiday, some not. These have been pulled from a range of sources including friends’ pictures, Facebook posts, online image searches, and YouTube.
Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha