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Ganesh Puja, is a festival in which knowledge about flora is passed on from one generation to another in the form of a tradition. Lord Ganapati is worshiped by all and more enthusiastically by children.Children find a friend in him and in his pet "Rat" also, which carries him. Every child identifies himself with Ganesha and feels that his mother loves him similar as Parvati loves Ganesha. This identity is stronger because Ganesha is always depicted as a child with a father, mother and brother. He is a GOD with a full family.
He is an Eco-friendly too!! Every year he is cast fresh out of mud / clay brought from the ponds, river-beds or fields. After worshiping he is immersed back into these ponds or rivers. If water bodies are not available in the vicinity, we put this idol in the back-yard under a "Tulasi" plant. Over the time he weathers out into the mud and helps the "Tulasi Plant" to grow.
He symbolises the innate relationship between man, animals and trees. He has a human body with an elephant head. He represents vegetarians being strong. To please HIM we offer leaves of various plants called "Patri". Patri contains at-least 21 varieties of leaves which have aromatic or medicinal properties. To offer these and propitiate the LORD, our children need to identify them so that they can go round in the neighborhood and fetch them. Fun starts early in the morning on the Vinayaka Chaviti Day, with children fanning out all over the place looking for these plants. If a few plants are missing in the neighborhood, as parents we should encourage children to plant those missing species during the on-going rainy season so that these plant grow and their leaves are available in the next year to offer to GOD. If there is no space to plant trees at home, encourage children to plant them in the community places like - parks, road dividers, temples, road sides, school boundaries, embankments of ponds and rivers etc.
Our ancient wisdom indicates that each of these plants has medicinal properties, extracts of which used to help community to cure common ills. Even today pharmacies use their extracts for preparing medicines!!! What used to be a general awareness in using these plants and their products, is presently forgotten because of our modernization and negligence. Presently, if we can atleast identify and grow a few of these species in our vicinity, it should help us to protect the floral diversity. Most of us are ignorant as to how to use these plants and their extracts for our medical health. Yet luckily we still have amongst us - "Ayurved Doctors" who can guide us in preparing various first aids before we rush for an Allopathic solution. Internet has lots of material on this subject. Following is the glossary of 21 plants in Sanskrit, Telugu with their Botanical Names. This glossary should ignite the curious child to search for the relevant material on internet and uderstand the diversity.
Click here to see a poster which shows in a nutshell the medicinal properties of these 21 plants (Poster's Language is Telugu. One need to have Adobe addons to view this poster in browser).
Ardent devotees of Lord Ganesha look for 108 varieties of plants. Since the number is huge it has been abridged to 21. Depending upon the agro-climatic region where one stays, modifications are made in the 21 varieties. For example, the above list doesn't contain Neem, Velakkaya (Forest apple), Neredu (Blue Berry), Kewda etc which we find in the list of other regions. The basic objective of listing 21 different varieties is to help our children understand the concept that God has gifted a diverse flora with medicinal and aromatic properties, which we need to appreciate. Let us not forget there is nothing called authentic list while performing the pooja. Devotion and appreciating the concept behind the Ganesh Patri Puja tradition is important.
Enjoy sharing your knowledge about flora with your children through Patri Puja !!!!!!!!!
We worship God in Ganesh Avatar for his blessings, so as to
These attributes are symbolised in the form of Ganesha as follows:
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