Nov 26, 2007

Origin of Ganeshotsav

By Dr. Devakumar

1. Origin of Ganeshotsav (Sify News, By Michael Gonsalves in Pune )

Legend has it that one Sardar of Peshwa named Nanasaheb Khajgiwale in 1892 visited the palace of Gwalior, where he came across Ganesh Utsav. People from all walks of life took part in the celebrations. Impressed with the festivities, Nanasaheb decided to start the same kind of festival at Pune, the capital of Peshwa. Thus, in 1896 Khajgiwale, Ghotawadekar and Bhau Rangari organised a 'sarvajanik' (public) Ganesh Utsav and in the same year, Ganesh immersion ritual was also started.

In the following year, i.e., in 1897, the number of Ganesh mandals increased alarmingly, and the question of whose Ganpati should be first in the cavalcade was hotly debated. At this crucial time, veteran leaders Lokmanya Tilak and Annasaheb Patwardhan were called in to resolve the dispute. They unanimously gave first preference to Jijamata Prasthapit Kasaba Ganapati Ganesh Utsav mandal. Thereafter, people started celebrating Ganesh Utsav on a large scale.

Balgangadhar Tilak made it a public community celebrations in the name of sarvajanik Ganeshotsav. And the same concept was launched later in the Keshavji Naik Chawls in Girgaum, Mumbai. The leader’s objective was as much to bring about the social and cultural mobilisation of an enslaved populace, as it was to circumvent the British ban on public gathering.

After the British were forced out from the country, one of its important aims - to educate the masses on various current issues of the day - continues. It is as significant today as it was a hundred years ago. Political, social, economical, medical religious themes dominate the Ganapati mandals set up in every nook and cranny of the city.

Historically, this significant temple dates back to the time of Chhatrapati Shivaji. The temple, owned and managed by the Thakar family since its inception, was also frequented by Shivaji's mother, Jijabai. The origin of the idol is shrouded in mystery.

According to legend the deity is supposed to be swayambhu, one which emerged naturally and the Thakar family has claimed that it has records for at least two centuries before Shivaji. The Kasba Ganpati is also known as Jayati Gajanan or the Lord who is the harbinger of victory. Legend has it that Shivaji came to pay his obeisance to this deity before he waged battles and returned to worship after victorious. Interestingly, the Thakar family which migrated to Pune centuries ago from Indigaon, a village near Bijapur in Karnataka, has preserved the 'sanad' (legal document) conferring the family the ownership and management of the this historical temple. (

2. EVR Periyar’s Movement

In first quarter of 20th century, the proliferation of Pillaiyar (Ganesh is called so in Tamil) was so extensive in every street corner; Mr Periyar gave a call for the removal of all such statues. In fact, he gave the slogan “A foolish man invented God; Worshipping a creator-God is foolish” etc. This led to a rationalist movement and caste-free society at least in names. Thus, one would see the Tamils from native State would bear names devoid of any religious or caste surnames.

3. Ganesh drank milk globally only on a single day, why?

On September 21, 1995, a miracle-drama enacted all over the world reviving devotion to Ganesha. It was a one-day wonder and every one forgot feeding the God on subsequent days! Yours sincerely gave a scientific explanation to this melodrama to Press Trust of India that was carried by leading newspapers on the next day. It was proved to be so!

In the next message, let me put forth my analysis of the legend and Origin of Ganesha with reference to Tirthankar cult.

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