September 24, 2012 00:00 By The Nation 10,855 Viewed
Celebrations of the elephant god's birthday will include a fete in Nakhon Nayok on Saturday
Long ears, big forehead, large stomach, four arms, small eyes – these are the notable attributes of one of Hinduism’s most famous deities, Lord Ganesha. The symbol of wisdom and prosperity, this Hindu god is worshipped first in any prayer. It is believed that for the fulfilment of one’s desires, his blessings are absolutely necessary.
This month, Hindus and Thai devotees of Ganesha are celebrating the birthday of the Hindu god, which was last Thursday. The celebrations known as the Ganesha festival are also underway at different venues in Thailand such as Shiva Temple in Bangkok’s Ramindra area and Utthayan Ganesh Temple in Nakhon Nayok and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad Association of Thailand.
This year the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is organising the Ganesha festival, or Ganesh Utsav, to pay respects to Lord Ganesha at Utthayan Ganesh Temple in Nakhon Nayok on Saturday. Thousands of devotees are expected to turn up and take part in the visarajan ceremony of Ganesh Idol.
In general, the Ganesha festival is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals celebrated on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadarapadathat that normally falls during August or September. It is observed throughout India and by Hindus in all parts of the world. The celebration of Ganesh Utsav continues for five, seven or ten days. Ganesha statues installed in temples, community centres, street corners and in homes are usually well decorated with lighting before a mass prayer.
During the celebrations, the elegant idols of Ganesha from 10 to 30 metres in height are carried on lavishly decorated floats to be immersed in the sea after one, three, five, seven and ten days. The procession and immersion ceremony are accompanied by drumbeats, devotional songs and dance. In the past, the Ganesh festival used to be a purely family affair. Years later, it became a practice to end the festival on ‘Anant Chaturdashi’ with the immersion of the Ganapati idol in the water.
The story of Ganesha’s origins has always been part of the Thai life. There are numerous stories in Hindu mythology associated with the birth of Ganesha, whose vehicle is the Mooshak (rat) and who loves Modaks (droplet shaped Indian sweet).
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesh was created by Goddess Parvati. She used some dough to make Ganesh and then breathed life into him. The Goddess wanted someone to keep a watch at the door while she bathed, she asked Ganesha to be the guard at the door. Lord Shiva came to visit Parvati and Ganesha stopped him. As result of his anger, Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head. After hearing the story from Parvati, he realised that Ganesh was right. Lord Shiva replaced Ganesh’s head with an elephant.
In Thailand, Lord Ganesh is known as Phra Phikanet or Phra Phikanesuan. Thai people believe that he is the god of fortune and success, and can support them to overcome obstacles in life.
Lord Ganesha appears in the emblem of Thailand’s Fine Arts Department.
Wat Phra Sri Umadevi, the Hindu temple on Silom Road, houses the beautiful sculpture of Lord Ganesha that was shipped from India in the late 19th century.
Ganesha also sits on a high pedestal outside Bangkok’s CentralWorld, where he attracts many devotees.
Over the years, Ganesh Temple at Nakhon Nayok has become an important venue for worshippers not only for Hindus but large numbers of local Thai people who worship Ganesha every day. The major attraction of the temple is the statue of Ganesha that rises 38 feet in height. The temple’s big event is the annual Ganesh Festival.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad Association Thailand is committed to promoting Hinduism as a way of life and creating a supportive environment to strengthen the social, economic and cultural relations between Bharat and Thailand.