Vinayaka Chathurthi29 Aug 03
No religious-minded person, belonging to the Hindu faith, fails to pay his obeisance to Lord Ganapathi in some form, manner or other. His Grace is invoked at the commencement of any auspicious ceremony or enterprise. For the Sri Vaishnavite, the counterpart is Sri Vishvaksena, the commander of Lord Narayana's celestial forces. The term 'Ganapathi' also means the same - commander of the Siva Ganas, the forces of Lord Siva.
It is doubtful whether any other God has as many temples as Lord Ganapathi has, particularly in Tamil Nadu, where He has at least a niche in every street corner. If your flat or home or building faces a street in a straight line you are advised to ward off the evil effect by having Lord Ganapathi's idol installed in a niche in the compound wall. You must have seen many such niches. Of course, this Lord's favourite place is under a peepul tree (arasa maram) near a riverside.
Our Pillai Yaar - Our Pillaiyaar!
This elephant-faced darling deity of children is hailed by many names - Gajapathi, Vinayaka (the One who has no overlord), Vigneswara (the Lord of all obstacles: that means He removes all obstacles: He will also, to reform you, create obstacles in case you neglect Him), Lambodara (the pot-bellied One), and, of course, most affectionately as Pillaiyaar. This special appellation signifies two attributes: He is the darling son of the parents of the Universe Parvati, and Paramesvara: He is also the darling child of all other parents in our world. He is so lovable. He is so naughty, so mischievous, so delightfully friendly to all those who seek His Grace. Just as a child forgets and forgives so easily so also does Pillaiyaar. He will not harbour a grudge against anyone.
He is so easily pleased!
Just as a little child is so easily pleased with your loving attention towards him, so also does this elephant-faced Lord (Gajapathi) get pleased easily. You offer Him tit-bits of 'Arugampul' (the juicy tender blades of the special type of coolant grass shoots that He likes so much) and you can get anything legitimate you want. Give Him a plantain or two, with sincere dedication or devotion, and you are sure to get in return a huge plantain-grove!
Huge, gentle, lovable!
His body is huge, typical of an elephant. And yet, He is gentle. Is not an elephant gentle by nature, unless goaded?
He is so selfless! When sage Vyasa requested Him to be his amanuensis (scribe) for completion of his epic, the Mahabharata, this Lord broke one of His tusks, the pride of an elephant, to oblige the sage. He wrote the epic on the palm-leaves with His tusk as the stylus. This is just to set an example (for us) that for a noble cause, for the welfare of humanity, no sacrifice is too much! Satyam, Jnaanam and Dharmam have to be propagated amongst all. That is the lesson He teaches us, here, this Eka-danta (one tusked) Lord!
We offer only to this God a special type of obeisance which no other God can expect from us - the Thoppikkaranam in which we catch our left ear with the right hand and the right ear with the left hand and kneel down, squat and rise and repeat this any number of times! Why?