First and foremost, it is Ganesh Chaturthi - the occasion on which we celebrate Ganesh, his birth and his works! It just also happens to be my beloved teacher, and solid friend, Seane Corn's birthday, and I find no irony in that - Seane has done a lot to remove obstacles and be a support on my own personal growth.
We are celebrating Ganesh's birthday because it is worthy of celebration and contemplation, but also, because we are in the last days of preparation for GaneshFest, 2012 - our "Off the Mat Into the World" Global Seva Challenge fundraiser!
We're hosting three nights of music and two full days of yoga (live music an DJs accompanying) with 20 beloved Austin Teachers sharing the flows. Please come check it out - we need your support to be able to reach our goal, as well as bringing folks from all over together in shared joy, service and purpose.
Why Ganesh?? Well, he's a helpful soul. He sometimes puts obstacles in our way, when we need them most. He may test us, temper us, see what we are made of. He also removes obstacles, he is invoked for good beginnings and fresh starts! He's lovable, jolly and in service to us all.
There's a great legend, as there always is, behind the story of Ganesh. Traditional stories tell that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed.
Lord Shiva returned and, as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter. Well, Lord Shiva didn't know Ganesh either, and wasn't excited about him standing at the bath of his lover... Lord Shiva became enraged and asked his follower ghosts to teach the child some manners. Ganesha, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of shakti or power was very powerful himself. He defeated the ghost-followers - called the "ganas" - and declared nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing.
Sensing a growing turmoil, the sage of heavens, Narada, along with the Saptarshi - the seven wise rishis, or sages - went to appease the boy with no results. Angered, the king of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn't stand a chance. By then, this issue had become a matter of pride for Parvati and Shiva. After the devas were defeated, the trinity - the controller, preserver and destroyer of the universe - launched an attack against Ganesha. Amidst the fight, Shiva severed the head of the child, and brought on Parvati's rage.
Seeing her son dead, Parvati revealed her true self, as the Adi-Shakti, the prime energy that fuels the universe and sustains matter. Taking on a terrible form, she vowed to destroy the universe where her son was killed and re-create a better one. The Gods prostrated before her and Shiva promised that her son will live again.
The trinity hunted the world for a head and came across a mother elephant crying for her dead baby. They consoled the mother and fixed the head of the baby elephant in place of Ganesha's head. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day, the boy would be called as "Ganesha" (Gana-Isha - lord of the Ganas). In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God.
Lovely story - and just for fun, contrast it to the story of Isis - aka Isha, a female diety - who also is served by a family member, once killed and dismembered, and reconstructed, with a Hawk's head. Just sayin', a good story travels a long way.
So, what does it mean for you - it means what needs be meant. Things seem blocked, stuck, in a rut - look to Ganesh for some release. However, if things are going well, don't be surprised if you get a little test.
The GaneshTest we'll call it - just how serious are you about your purpose, your calling and your dream?? Purposeful enough to endure some hardship? Committed enough to stay placid through the moments where nothing is happening? Are you up to the test?
Whatever you decide, make it a sweet day - enjoy, give thanks and praise!!
Tickets for GaneshFest are on sale now - grab them HERE - we need your help to address the shame and disgrace that is human sexual-trafficking in India. Please join us in practice and in Seva!