What is Ganesh Chaturthi and what is its significance?

The day of birth, advent or incarnation of Lord Ganesha is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesha is an immensely popular God, who is hailed as a personification of auspiciousness, a remover of obstacles and a harbinger of success, and is both loved and venerated. Chaturthi means the fourth day. Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day of the waxing Moon phase (Shukla Paksha) in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which corresponds to the Tamil month of Aavani and to the period, mid-August to mid-September.

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the very important festivals of India. In the Western Indian states like Maharashtra, it remains the biggest one, which is celebrated for more than a week. Ganesh is the lord who bestows both, Buddhi, intelligence and spiritual wisdom and also, Siddhi, success and material benefits. Hence Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated, not only as an occasion for worship and observance of religious austerities, but also as the time for fun, feasts, social get-togethers, bonhomie and joy.
What is the legend behind the belief that we should not see the Moon on Ganesh Chaturthi day?

There is a belief that we should not see the moon on the Ganesh Chaturthi day, and there is an interesting story in this regard. The moon is regarded a symbol of beauty and it is indeed a pleasure to watch him floating in the blue sky, moving amidst the clouds. Poets have always cited the glowing full moon as an object of comparison with any handsome face. This sort of fulsome praise began getting into the planet’s head, and he started becoming quite proud about his form and beauty.

Once he saw Ganesha walking around. His pot belly, elephant head and the strange gait amused the moon, who could not help comparing them with his own elegant form and fine manners. This made the egoistic moon laugh at Ganesha with disdain and pass sarcastic comments. This was a serious indiscretion on the part of the moon, for which he paid the price. In order to teach the moon a lesson on humility, Lord Ganesha cursed him that from then on no one will look at him or praise him, and if anyone did so, he or she will have to suffer due to false allegations and bad name.

The moon was shocked and so were the other Gods. Moon realized his mistake, apologized to the Lord and offered worship to him, seeking his mercy and redemption from the curse. Ganesha was pleased and withdrew the curse, but with a rider. People can very well look at the moon and enjoy its beauty on any day, other than the day of the Lord’s birth, that is, the Ganesh Chaturthi day. Those who violate this norm and look at the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi, will have to face false accusations and may lose their peace of mind.

The chastised but relieved moon bowed to the Lord and left happily.

What is the remedy for those who look at the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi?

People who look at the moon by mistake on Ganesh Chaturthi, can perform the sacred rituals on that day, chant hymns in his praise of the Lord, listen to stories about him, and offer worship to Ganesha, and get relieved of the negative effects, by the grace of the Lord.

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