Vinayaka Chathurthi is the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha and is celebrated in a grand manner all over India and in Tiruvannamalai also. All over the town, there were idols of Ganesh installed in special shrines and worshipped with pujas and loud chanting in praise of the favorite elephant god. This year, Ganesha Chathurthi fell on the 31st of August. Hindus believe that Lord Ganesha is the God who has the power of removing all obstacles and making one’s path clear whether it be worldly or spiritual. Any new undertaking, either at one’s place of work or at home, always starts by reciting a mantra invoking his blessings. He is also known as the God of good luck and prosperity.
The most popular legend associated with Lord Ganesha can be found in the Shiva Puranam. Here it says that Lord Ganapati was created out of the dough that Goddess Parvati used for her bath. The Goddess wanted a gate-keeper, to keep visitors away while she took her bath. So She created a male doll from the dough and breathed life into it. The day she did this came to be known as the birthday of Lord Ganesha, which we celebrate today as Ganesh Chathurthi. One day while Goddess Parvati was taking her bath, Lord Shiva came to visit her. Ganesha did not know him, so he did not allow the Lord to enter the house. This made Lord Shiva angry and he cut off poor Ganesha’s head. Later, when he came to know the truth, he replaced Ganesha’s head with the head of an elephant. After this, the appearance of Lord Ganesha changed and he became the elephant-headed god.
There is yet another popular legend associated with Ganesha Chaturthi, from Skanda Puranam. According to this one, Ganesha was once invited for a feast in Chandraloka (the Moon’s abode). Our Ganesha being quite fond of sweets, ate Laddoos till his stomach bloated, so much so that as he got up to walk after the meal, he could not balance himself because of his huge stomach and he slipped and fell. His stomach burst and all the laddoos came rolling out. Seeing this, the Moon was highly amused and burst out laughing. Ganesha got angry and cursed the Moon that it would vanish from the universe. Because of the Moon’s disappearance, the whole world began to wane. The gods asked Lord Shiva to get Ganesha to revoke his curse. The Moon also apologized for his misbehavior. Finally, Ganesha modified his curse saying that the Moon would be invisible only on one day of the month and would be partially seen on Ganesha Chaturthi. He also added that anyone who looked at the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi would face a false charge. This is the reason why, even today, it is considered inauspicious to look at the moon on Ganesha Chathurthi.