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Use Ganesh idols made of clay

Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is worshipped as the supreme lord of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Like Durga Puja in West Bengal and East India, Ganesha Chaturthi is widely celebrated in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, among others.

Ganesh Chaturthi, which has been an individual, home function for a long time, is now a social event as well. During the colonial rule, there was a wave of depression and desperation in society as there was no hope for freedom. Many leaders such as Lokmanya Tilak then decided to have community celebrations of the Ganesh Chaturthi to invoke a sense of bonhomie and camaraderie. Since then, Ganesh Chaturthi has become a community event also. At the individual level, it's a spiritual celebration and it assumes a cultural identity and expression when celebrated in community.

There is evidence that Ganesha was adored around the world. It's interesting how different types of Ganesha idols were found during excavations in places in Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Bulgaria and many countries in Europe.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the occasion to realise that you are connected to the divine and you can overcome all obstacles. When you face obstacles in life, you feel a sort of helplessness. You feel you don't have the power and energy to get over them and feel low and confused. At such moments, remember Ganesha.

Ganesha is also known as the Dhoomra Varna (smoky colored God). Obstacles are smoky. When situations are unclear, you don't see what's in front of you, even though it is there. When you invoke the Ganesha within, you get the courage, confidence and spirit to face the obstacles. And once you are ready to face them, you will find that they just vanish.

Another aspect of Ganesha is the bestower of intelligence. If you think you are too intelligent, you are not. The sign of not being intelligent is thinking you are very intelligent. However intelligent you are, you would still need more intelligence to sail through the ups and downs of life.

Ganesha is also the one who gives you perfection. Siddhi means perfection, buddhi means intelligence. If at all one needs to pray for something, it should be for good intellect and perfection. One sign of Siddhi is that things appear before you desire them; you don't even get a chance to make a desire. The second level is when you desire, and at that very moment, it appears in front of you. Sometimes, you desire but you don't get what you want – this is lack of siddhi. Getting in abundance on time or before time is siddhi. And this can only happen through sincere prayers.

Among the deities, Ganesha is the first deity. Ganesha's place is in the base, the mooladhara chakara. He is the entry point for the divine qualities. So when we worship him, all the good qualities blossom in us.

Making the lord of intellect and perfection a part of you and your family is the essence of Ganesh Chaturthi. It is a very important ritual that India has been following for ages. Just like you welcome a guest, people welcome and celebrate Ganesha. Though people adore Ganesha every day, the days of Ganesh Chaturthi are special. There is a wave of togetherness and devotion that gets invoked in the individual as well as in society.

When we celebrate the festival, we should consider the impact on the environment. If you use Ganesha idols which are colored with synthetic paints, you should not immerse them in water. If you have to immerse the idols, then use paints based on natural dyes. Ideally, one should not use any paints and use idols that are made of clay. The elephant has only one color, so the Ganesha idol you use for worship should not have any additional color!

The use of harmful paints also amounts to disrespecting the water element. Usually, before immersing the idols, the water element is worshiped. If we immerse the idols painted with toxic chemicals along with other non-bio-degradable items, it will not only amount to polluting the water but also disrespecting it.

We have to keep the Pancha Tattva, the five elements free from pollution. This is real worship. This Ganesh Chaturthi, let us keep Ganesha in our heart and make sure we do not harm the environment.

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