Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: It was the elephant god Ganesh’s birthday and the moon decided to be rude. He was in for a surprise. Enjoy this Ganesh Chaturthi story!
By Namita Anand
One day when the world was still young and men and gods visited each other, Ganesha was invited for dinner to a friend’s house. Actually, it was Ganesha’s birthday and the friend had planned a party to celebrate the day.
Now, Ganesha had heard that his friend’s wife was an excellent cook. And if the elephant god has one weakness, it is good food. Often called “lambodar” (one who has a big tummy), Ganesha loves to eat.
He was delighted to accept the invitation. ‘It will be a lovely birthday,’ Ganesha thought. ‘I will be surrounded by friends and get to eat a lot of goodies too.’ The day passed by quickly. Riding his mouse, dressed finely, Ganesha reached his friend’s house in the evening.
Everyone had a lot of fun at the party. Soon it was time for dinner. And what a fabulous spread waited for Ganesha! More than 51 dishes, each more delicious than the other, were laid out on the table. Some were salty and some sour, but most of them were sweet. Since the friend had told his wife that Ganesha had a sweet tooth, she had prepared a lot of sweet things.
Ganesha tucked into the dinner happily. Just a wee bit greedy, he polished off one dish after another. He liked modaks—small, pear-shaped, sweet balls—the best. He gobbled down hundreds of them. Finally his tummy was stuffed so tight that it hurt.
Ganesha then decided to leave. He took leave of his friend and his wife, telling them how he loved the feast. Holding on to his stomach, groaning a little bit, Ganesha clambered on to his mouse and left. It was night by this time. The moon lit Ganesha’s path. Suddenly a huge, black snake slithered across the road.
The mouse got so frightened seeing the snake that he ran in the opposite direction. Poor Ganesha couldn’t maintain his balance. He fell down. And SPLAT! He scrambled all over. As he was trying to gather himself, the elephant god heard loud laughs. He looked up and saw the moon shaking with laughter.
The moon, shining above, had watched everything and found the whole scene extremely funny. The mouse was running in one direction and the snake in the other. In the middle lay Ganesha, clutching his tummy tight and making an effort to get up. The moon couldn’t help but break into laughter!
The elephant god, already feeling foolish, got really angry hearing the moon laugh. First, he caught the snake and tied it around his middle to keep his stomach in place, and then he started to chase the moon.
The moon realised he was in big trouble and ran for his life. He ran this way and that, but Ganesha kept after him. Finally, the moon found an empty house and went to hide inside it, closing all doors and windows.
Ganesha, still upset, decided he would wait for the moon to come out. ‘Just you wait, Mr Moon!’ he called out. ‘Sometime or the other you will come out and then I will get you,’ said Ganesha. The elephant god sat down in front of the house to keep watch. Many days and nights passed. Terrified by Ganesha, the moon continued to hide in the house.
Now without the moon, there was no light at night. (There was no electricity in those times.) The nights became pitch dark. No one could see anything. Work, play, everything had to stop as soon as the sun set.
Worst of all, the moonless nights made the robbers and thieves very bold. They would do awful things and no one could catch them since it was dark. Everybody was very unhappy.
They went to the house where the moon was hiding and begged him to come out. The moon refused. ‘How can I come out?’ he said. ‘If I do, Ganesha will get me.’
The people then decided to pray to Ganesha. ‘Dear God,’ they prayed, ‘have mercy on us. Forgive the moon. Let him come out and shine again.’
Ganesha, kind-hearted as usual, felt sorry for them. He realised it was not fair to make the entire world pay for the moon’s mistake. But then neither did he want the moon to get away without any punishment.
After much thinking, he settled on a compromise. Ganesha declared, ‘The moon can come out of the house. I will not harm him. But he has to pay a price for laughing at me on my birthday. The moon’s punishment is that no one will like him or even look at him on my birthday. Those who do will invite trouble on themselves …’
The moon accepted the punishment timidly. He came out and took up his job of lighting up the night skies again. But even today many people don’t look up at the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi, Ganesha’s birthday. Who would want to displease Ganesha after all!
(Excerpted with permission from the book Ganesha, written by Namita Anand and illustrated by Garima Gupta, published by Scholastic India.)