Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why Durva is offered to Lord Ganesha

Devotees of Lord Ganesha are well aware that 21 durva (दुर्वा) are offered to the Ganapati idol during worship. However, few really know the reason why this durva is offered. There is an interesting mythological legend which tells the reason.
Significance of offering Durva during Ganapati puja
Once when an apsara named Tilotama was dancing in Yama (God of Death)’s darbar, the dance resulted in the creation of a lot of sin and from it a ferocious rakshasa (demon) named Anlasur was formed. Huge balls of fire started emitting from the demon’s eyes. Each time the demon spoke, his voice created a thunderous noise on everyone’s ears and each time he took a step the very ground shook. Whoseover came in front of him would be swallowed up. The Gods themselves feared him and ran to Lord Vishnu (the Preserver) and begged him to do something about this ferocious demon. Lord Vishnu reassuringly told them not to fear, that Gajanan (Lord Ganesha) would soon destroy the demon. Hearing this, Lord Ganesha took the form of a young boy. 

At that moment , at the spot where young Gajanan stood, Anlasur arrived, with the flames emitting from his eyes drying up the oceans’ water & the earth shaking with tremors. The Gods and rishis scurried for cover, knowing they would be destroyed if they came in Anlasur’s path. Gajanan alone stood his ground, unmoving & fearless. When Anlasur came near him, Gajanan took a larger form and in the blink of an eye swallowed Anlasur in his entirety. 

Lotus is usually placed in idol's hand
Serpent hood over Ganesha's head
Although that was the end of the demon, due to the fiery state created in Gajanan’s belly, Gajanan’s whole body became aflamed with extreme heat. To cool down Gajanan’s body, Lord Indra sprinkled amrut on Gajanan’s head and placed the cool moon on his head. Lord Vishnu gave Gajanan His lotus and Lord Varun poured water on him. Lord Shiva placed the 1000-headed serpent around Gajanan’s body with the hood of the serpent over his head. However, no matter what the Gods did, Gajanan’s body’s fire did not cool down.

Then arrived 88,000 rishis, with each one having 21 fresh green durva (sacred grass). These durva they spread over Gajanan’s head. The minute they did this, the fiery heat was doused. A pleased Gajanan said, “Since the body’s fire was not destroyed by any means other than the durva, from today durva will always be dear to me. Whosoever offers me durva will be assured that all sin in his life will be destroyed and he will become punya”

Yet another fascinating mythological legend explained the true value of Durva:
Koundya, a devotee of Lord Ganesha, once sent his wife Ashraya to Lord Indra with the offering of one durva to get its equivalent value of gold. 

On the instructions of Lord Indra, Kuber (God of Wealth) brought a pair of weighing scales. One one side he put the durva given by Ashraya. On the other side he put one gold brick. However, the gold brick did not outweigh the durva. So Kuber put more gold bricks but to no avail as the side of the scales holding the durva still weighed more. Then Kuber started removing more wealth from the storehouse. He added all the gold that was there, along with money and precious stones. Finally the entire storehouse of wealth was emptied. Yet, the durva weighed more! 

The gods then themselves decided to sit on the scales with the wealth. So Kuber himself and then Indra, Vishnu & Shankara as well as other Gods residing in Airawat sat on the scales. Even then, the durva was revealed to be of more value.

Thus was born the legend of the importance of durva in terms of how invaluable it is.

दुर्वा वाहताना गनेशनामाचा उच्चार  

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