Festival : Ganesh Chaturthi



This Hindu festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed across India to celebrate Lord Ganesha, who is known as the deity of prosperity. He is also called Vighna Harta – The remover of obstacles. As a rule, every Hindu ritual starts with prayers to Lord Ganesha. His worship symbolizes good omen and new beginnings. This is a ten-day festival, that starts on the fourth day of Hindu Luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in Gregorian months of August or September.

An excerpt about the festival is given below.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honour the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom. He is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies as he’s considered the God of beginnings. He’s widely and dearly referred to as Ganapati or Vinayaka.

There are two different versions about Ganesha’s birth. One has it that Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of dirt off her body while having a bath and set him to guard her door while she finishes her bath. Shiva who has gone out, returned at that time, but as Ganesha didn’t know of him, stopped him from entering. An angry Shiva severed the head of Ganesha after a combat between the two. Parvati was enraged and Shiva promised Ganesha will live again. The devas who went in search of a head facing north of a dead person could manage only the head of an elephant. Shiva fixed the elephant’s head on the child and brought him back to life.

The other legend has it that Ganesha was created by Shiva and Parvati on request of the Devas, to be a Vighna Kartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of rakshasas (demonic beings), and a Vighna Hartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the Devas.

This year, September 17th marks the beginning of this festival which is also called as Vinayaka Chaturthi.

You can read the full article here (source): India Today News

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Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Kashi Vishwanath Temple stands on the western bank of river Ganga in Varanasi. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. The Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It has been destroyed and reconstructed a number of times in the history. The last structure was demolished by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The remains of the erstwhile temple can be seen in the foundation, the columns and at the rear part of the mosque. The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780.



Venkateswara Temple

Venkateswara Temple (construction going back to 300 AD) is a major pilgrimage destination of Hindus, especially Vaishnavites. It is said that we must visit Adi Varaha Swami temple before visiting Lord Venkateshwara Temple and Sri Padmavathi Ammavari temple after. It’s is dedicated to the Supreme God Narayana / Maha Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. Hence, the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham and Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam. Temple is located in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati. The Hills (853m above sea level) comprises of seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The temple lies on the seventh peak -Venkatadri, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank. Hence the temple is also referred to as “Temple of Seven Hills”. The Temple is constructed in Dravidian architecture follows Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship. The Garbagriha(Sanctum Sanctorum) is called Ananda-Nilayam where the presiding deity, is in standing posture and facing east. The temple is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras and is listed as 106th and the last earthly Divya Desam. The temple is visited by about 50k – 100k pilgrims daily (30-40 mill visitors annually), while on special occasions & festivals, like Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500k, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.



Khajuraho Temples

The Khajuraho temples(950-1050 CE) are a group of Hindu & Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh. Out of 85 temples, only about 20 temples have survived. The name Khajuraho, or Kharjuravāhaka, is derived from Sanskrit (kharjura – date palm, vāhaka – ‘carrier’). These temples are famous for their intricately carved nagara-style statues & erotic sculptures. It’s designed as per Hindu vastu-purusha-mandala or grid-geometrical design. The art work symbolically highlight the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha. Of the surviving temples, 3 are dedicated to Jain Tirthanks, located in SE region. All three ideas from Āgamas are richly expressed in Khajuraho temples – Avyakta, Vyaktavyakta and Vyakta.



Madurai Meenakshi Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi(Parvati) & her consort Lord Sundareswarar(Shiva). It houses 12 Gopurams (pyramidal gates), out of which four tallest ones stand on the outer walls (facing four cardinal directions) and shorter Gopurams lead to sanctums of the main deities. The south gate is the tallest (51 m) and can be climbed to have a view of the entire city. This exquisite Dravidian architectural temple houses around 33,000 sculptures. The ‘Mandapam’ of the temple consists of 985 unique pillars, which were carved out of a single granite stone block. Some of the pillars produce music when tapped. There is an art museum within the premises showcasing the 1200 yr history. During the 10-day annual Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival(April-May) the temple attracts over 1 million visitors.



Vaishno Devi Mandir

Vaishno Devi, is a manifestation of the Hindu Mother Goddess Durga. She resides in the Holy cave in a natural rock form having 3 heads(pindies) with one base. Each of the 3 pindies is distinct in colour & texture. The cave is situated at a height of 5200 feet and is visited by millions of devotees every year, after an arduous trek of 12 kilometers. Though most people walk to the shrine, some use ponies or helicopter rides to commute. It’s a must-visit temple for spiritual enthusiasts!



Batu Caves

The Batu Caves are situated in Gombak, Selangor which is 13 km (7 miles) north of the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This limestone hill comprises of 3 main caves and a number of smaller ones. It is a popular Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan. The 42.7-metre (140 ft) high iconic statue of Lord Murugan is simply breathtaking. During the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam, over 800,000 devotees & visitors throng the caves. Apart from spiritual tourists, it’s also a great place for rock climbing enthusiasts.

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