Bringing home Ganesha

Bringing home Ganesha

The highlight of the Ganesha festival is the enchanting idols devotees take home to worship. For devotees there is more to Ganesha than an elephant head. Every feature of the idol carries an interesting connotation for them. Deccan Herald spoke to several devotees and idol sellers to find out how the faithful choose their deity.

Many pay attention to Ganesha’s attractive eyes. Devotees usually look for eyes that are not wide open as partially closed eyes show Ganesha in a calmer mood.  Since, Ganesha is omnipresent he is expected to look at his devotee in any direction. If Ganesha’s eyes follow you as you move about, the idol has passed the first test.  But there are some, who look ‘only for the spark’ in Ganesha’s eyes, without caring whether they appear to move or not, say a few traders.

Ganesha’s trunk is a matter of concern for many devotees. A trunk curled towards right indicates emphasis of moral values in life. Most people fear that right-trunk Ganesha would be annoyed if rituals are not observed strictly. In contrast, left-trunk Ganesha promises money, good food, good offspring, name and fame, and is popular with devotees.

Raghavendra, owner of Balaji idols, Malleswaram, says Shaivites buy Ganesha with three stripes of sacred ‘vibhuti’ on forehead, while Vaishnavites prefer a vertical ‘tilak’. Devotees also ask for Ganesha with a ‘modak’ in his left hand. Ganesha with a fat belly indicates prosperity and is  most sought after, says Raghavendra. There are also requests for idols which are out of the ordinary. “We have an order for a red-coloured Ganesha this year… This is very strange because red signifies danger,” says Raghavendra.

Ganesha in sitting posture has been traditionally popular, though of late, devotees have begun to experiment with idols that show Ganesha sitting on lions, cows and even chairs.  “Even though Ganesha idols come in many forms these days, we follow our old custom and bring home a sitting Ganesha,” says Ramya Nandita an engineering student from Mathikere.

Ramya’s mother, Lakshmi says since her marriage she has been bringing home both clay and coloured Ganesha idols during the festival. She places the coloured Ganesha in the hall and the clay Ganesha in the pooja room.

Lakshmi still follows old customs and does not immerse Ganesha idols. She puts the clay Ganesha in a sack of rice, a throw back to the practice of farmers keeping Ganesha idols in their paddy fields to invoke the Lord’s blessings on their crop. The coloured Ganesha continues in the drawing room, until a new idol replaces him the following year.

Devotees also believe that the right colour brings home prosperity and success. Bright colours are mostly preferred as they symbolise fun, fervour and good fortune. M K Nagaratna, a homemaker from Vijaynagar, believes that Ganesha idols in pink and orange colours ring in good tidings. Interestingly, she has also been buying right-trunk Ganeshas for the past 25 years.

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