Monday, 5 September 2016

Ganesha Chaturthi and the legend of the cursed moon.

India is known for its many festivals! Ganesh Chaturthi is one such festival. Dedicated to the ElephantGod- Lord Ganesha, this 10-day festival brings together people from all walks of life.

Come Bhadrapada (August-September),households get ready to welcome the Lordof wisdom and the remover of all obstacles. In manyparts of the country,like in Maharashtra, this festival is celebrated as a community festival—huge pandals, mammoth idols of Ganesha, incessant beating of the drums, elaborate rituals, and delicious offerings made to the Lord dominate the kaleidoscope of events.

Most of us must have heard stories about the Elephant-head God from our parents, and grandparents, haven’t we? There are stories about how Ganesha got an elephant’s head, how Ganesha came to be worshipped as the God of wisdom, or how he helped Vyasa to write the Mahabharata. One such story is the story of the Moon and why looking at it during the festival brings bad luck and misfortune. Have you heard the story? 

Apparently, Lord Ganesha had been riding his vehicle- the tiny mouse, while returning from a feast. The sight of the rotund God on a tiny animal was so funny that the Moonburst out laughing.

Angered, Lord Ganesha cursed the Moon, “Whoever looks at you on this day will beget misfortune and be cursed with false accusations.”

The Moon was suddenly sorry for having made fun of the God. He begged for forgiveness but since the curse could not be taken back, the Lord modified it.

He blessed the Moon saying, “If anyone who has looked at you on this day, worships me, he will be free of the curse.”

Legend has it that even Lord Krishna who looked at the moon on this day was not spared of the curse. A wealthy nobleman, Satrajit was in possession of a magical, jewel called Syamantaka, gifted to him by Lord Surya. Lord Krishna had requested Satrajit to let the king use the jewel for the benefit of the kingdom. Satrajit refused to part with it. Unfortunately, his brother who went hunting wearing the jewel was killed during hunting and the jewel was taken by a bear. Lord Krishna was accused of its theft. Lord Krishna worshipped Lord Ganesha and with the blessings of the elephant-head god, he not only found the jewel and returned it to Satrajit but also got his daughter Satyabhama’s hand in marriage. 

At the outlook, the story might look quite absurd. But most mythological stories have valuable lessons to teach us, as does this one.

The elephant God is symbolic of enlightenment and his tiny vehicle, the mouse, is symbolic of our intellect or mind.Our ancestors believed that the gravitational pull of the moon could have an impact on the workings of our mind. This has also been corroborated through scientific studies. The significance of the story lies in the thought that an outside influence or ideology can impactthe working of our mind but the enlightened soul can overcome these urges using their intellect. Failure to do so, may result in misfortune. The way to salvation is by seeking wisdom from a guru.

Such a meaningful lesson, isn’t it? What is your interpretation of this story? Share your thoughts in the comments below.