Ganesh Chaturthi Havan
Ganesha Chaturthi is an ancient vedic fire ritual (also homa, havan), dedicated to the birthday (rebirth) of Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
It is annually celebrated at Lilleoru's ashram that is part of Haidakhandi Samaj and Babaji's Kriya Yoga families of spiritual centers. The core teaching at Lilleoru is practical use of awareness that is transmitted by Ingvar Villido Ishwarananda.
It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. It is the day Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods, barring Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati. Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.
The festival, also known as Ganeshutsav ("festival of Ganesha") is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September.
While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra, TamilNadu, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.
Traditional stories tell that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva returned and, as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged and asked his follower ghosts to teach the child some manners.
Ganesha was very powerful, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of shakti (or power). He defeated the ghost-followers (called "Ghana"s) and declared nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing. The sage of heavens, Narada, along with the Saptarshi (the seven wise rishis) sensed a growing turmoil and went to appease the boy with no results. Angered, the king of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn't stand a chance. By then, this issue had become a matter of pride for Parvathi and Shiva.
After the devas were defeated, the trinity, the controller, preserver and destroyer of the universe launched an attack against Ganesha. Amidst the fighting, Shiva severed the head of the child. And brought on Parvathi's rage. Seeing her son dead, Parvathi revealed her true self, as the Adi-shakti, the prime energy that fuels the universe and sustains matter. Taking on a terrible form, she vowed to destroy the universe where her son was killed and re-create a better one.
The Gods prostrated before her and Shiva promised that her son will live again. The trinity hunted the world for a head and came across a mother elephant crying for her dead baby. They consoled the mother and fixed the head of the baby elephant in place of Ganesha's head. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day, the boy would be called as "Ganesha" (Gana-Isha : lord of the Ganas). In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God.
It is not known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated. Ganesh Chaturthi was being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630-1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire.
From Lilleoru's friend Gita:
Happy Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is the birthday of this Lord and is celebrated every year on the 4th day of the waxing fortnight, during the month of the Bhadrapada (the 6th month as per the Indian calendar).
The symbolism hidden in choosing this day for his birthday.
Bhadrapada, the Sixth month- The number 6 indicates that the energy that we are worshipping as Ganapati is over and above the 5 basic elements of earth, water, fire air and space.
Waxing fortnight- This signifies knowledge (jnana).
The 4th day (Chaturthi)- The number 4 symbolizes that this God is over and above the 3 traits of Sattva, rajas and tamas (traits of purity, action, and inertia) and also over and above the 3 states of existence (waking, dream and deep sleep states).
Therefore, in a nutshell, it can be said that the Supreme Parabrahma who is over and above the 5 basic elements, the 3 states of existence as well as the 3 traits, is being worshipped on this day in the name of Ganapati.
On his birthday, we also pray for protection from wild animals & extremities of nature and for mental calmness and peace.
Among the 6 chakras (spiritual energy centers), the first and the base centre is the Mooladhara Chakra (located at the base of the spine). Lord Ganapati is the primary deity for this centre. This is the reason as to why He is worshipped before commencing any task. Lord Ganapati is also the giver of knowledge (vidyadhipati).
The word 'Ganapati' means leader. This name has been bestowed on Him as He is an unparalleled leader; a fact symbolized by His form.
Let us now understand the symbolism behind His form.
His elephant head symbolizes limitless strength. It emphasizes that He is the one who cannot be defeated. His large head symbolizes His wisdom. Small eyes show that He can see things far away and understand all happenings minutely with His foresight. The large ears display His ability to hear in great detail everything that is expressed.
The weapon 'pasha' (noose) held by him shows that illusion (maya) is under His control. The goad (ankusha) states that ahamkara (concept of self) is under His control. The single tusk depicts the ultimate victory -the state from which there is no return. His big stomach contains in it all the secrets. The snake is the sleeping Kundalini (coiled spiritual energy). The rat symbolizes the destruction of all the secrets of the enemies. Ganapati sitting or standing on the rat means that He drives away ignorance.
The existence of both the rat and the snake near Him teaches the person to give up jealousy, enmity and hatred, and to live in peace and harmony. The trunk symbolizes the pranava mantra- Omkaara.