Gaja Puja | Elephant Worship in Hinduism

Juna Akhada Sadhus with Elephant at Maha Kumbha Mela 2013

Juna Akhada Sadhus with Elephant at Maha Kumbha Mela 2013

Gajapuja is a type of puja performed to elephants, especially during festivals like Vinayaka Chaturthi and during the New Year festival days like Ugadi and Vishu in the temples, where elephants are grown. Similar to the holy cow, elephants are also considered as pious animals, since they contain the features of the elephant god Vinayaka.

During auspicious festival days, in some South Indian Temples, the elephants would be neatly dressed, and it would be decorated with golden ornaments. Priests would show Arathi to the elephant, and divine mantras would also be chanted in order to honour the gigantic animal. Devotees are also allowed to witness this sacred animal, and they can also offer them food items like jiggery, bananas and sugarcane.

In ancient times, similar to horses and bulls, royal kings and rich people used elephants for their travelling purposes. Whenever they want to visit any nearby towns or villages, they used it as a mode of transportation. Similar to the cow dung, the by-products of the elephants are also used for medicinal purposes. Apart from temple elephants, still some rich people adopt elephants as their pet animals, and would express their love and affection on them, and would kindly treat them similar to their children. They would also perform puja to the elephants, on their marriage anniversary day, birthdays and other festival days.

As per our Hindu Puranas, those who perform puja to the elephants would be blessed by Lord Vinayaka, and he would remove the obstacles in their lives. In general, elephants do not cause any harm to the humans, and it would hurt the humans, only if it becomes mad. If the owners of the elephants treat it kindly, then it would also act gently with their owners and with others. But sometimes, the elephant trainer would attack it if they disobey them. They should treat it kindly similar to their children, since these lovely animals cannot express their feelings, since they are unable to speak with us.

Hence let us participate in the Gajapuja performed at the temples, and let us get the grace of the first god Lord Vinayaka.

“OM SRI VINAYAKAYA NAMAHA”
WRITTEN BY
R.HARISHANKAR

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