On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, happy to narrate the legend of Ganesha who is known by the name Karumbaayiram Pillayar who presides over a temple near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.
Karumbaayiram means ‘a thousand sugar canes’ and it is interesting how this term got added to the name of this Ganesha. Originally, this Ganesha used to be referred to as Adi Varaha Ganesha as it was believed that Lord Vishnu prayed to this Ganesha before he took his Varaha Avatar.
Coming to the story of the present name, centuries ago, a merchant who was trading in sugar cane lived in a village near Kumbakonam.
It was his practice to carry loads of sugar cane to the neighbouring town to sell it to the sugar mills and earn money. This merchant was a miserly person and wouldn’t easily give anything to anyone.
One day, as usual, he had collected a thousand sugar canes and packed it in his big cart and was passing by the city of Kumbakonam. Since it was summer season, he felt very thirsty and looked around for some water. He saw a pond near this Ganesha temple. He went and refreshed himself and drank some cool water.
As he came back to his cart he saw a small boy staring longingly at the sugarcane. The boy came near the merchant and said, “Ayya, can I just have one sugarcane please? I love eating sugarcane…”
The merchant was annoyed. He just ignored the boy and got on to the cart. The boy came to the front and said, “please, please can you give me just one sugarcane? Ple…ase?
Now the boy was standing in front of the cart and the merchant could not move forward. He got very angry. “Move! Move from the way or else you will be hit by the cart” said the merchant in the rudest voice.
The boy would not move. Instead he started pleading with the merchant in the most pitiable way. “Ayya, I am hungry. These sugar canes seem to be fresh and will have lot of juice. Can you at least give me a piece from one sugarcane? Please Ayya! Just one piece is enough.”
There were a few onlookers who were greatly impressed by the appearance of the boy who was very delightful to look at. One of them called out and said, “Hey Sugarcane merchant, why don’t you give the boy a small piece at least?
The merchant looked at them. “Mind your business!” he screamed.
Then looking at the boy he yelled “Get lost! I won’t give you even one piece. And for your information, these are already pressed sugarcanes as good as dry sticks which can be only burnt as fuel. Now move away, will you?”
The boy moved from the way from the cart and cast a long look at the sugarcanes. He said to the merchant, “Oh! These are already pressed sugarcanes are they? Ok Let it be so. I will not ask you again” He then ran into the Ganesh temple.
The merchant went on his way and reached the sugar mill late at night. The next morning the employees of the sugar mill came out to unload the sugarcanes and take it inside the mill.
When they started unloading, one of them exclaimed to the merchant, “Hey! What have you brought man? These are just like dry sticks!” The merchant was taken aback.
Another man shouted, “Not like dry sticks. They are all dry sticks only. Seems the juice is already pressed from these. This is only fit to be burnt as fuel. Are you trying to cheat us?”
“You have come to waste our time bringing useless stuff? Go… go!” shouted another.
The merchant’s head was reeling. He had spent money and bought a thousand sugarcanes and now they were all like dry sticks? How did this happen?
His thought was interrupted by another voice- “Hey move your cart from here man! We have other carts coming in. Hm… quick, quick!”
The merchant numbed with shock gathered himself with great difficulty. Traumatized at the financial loss he had suffered, he took the cart and was slowly walking on the road. Confused and overcome with mental fatigue, he reached home and dozed off with a heavy heart.
He had a dream in which the same little boy appeared.
The boy gave a sweet smile and said, “I am Adi Varaha Ganesha. When I asked you for a sugarcane, you only told me that you were carrying sugarcanes as good as dry sticks. I made your word come true!”
The merchant woke up with a shock and ran to the Adi Varaha Ganesh temple.
Falling at the feet of Ganesha he shed tears of remorse repeatedly asking for forgiveness. He repented for his mistake and realized that one should learn to see God in all living beings.
The next day, he woke up deciding to burn up all the useless sugar canes on is cart and when he uncovered the load, lo and behold! The sugar canes were as fresh as he had bought them!
Unable to contain his surprise, he took all the sugarcanes and went to the temple and offered them to Ganesha with loads of gratitude.
From that day this Ganesha got the name of Karumbaayiram Pillayar or Ganesha who accepted the thousand sugarcanes.
Next time, when you go to Kumbakonam do not miss having taking the blessings of this Ganesha!
Wishing you all a fun-filled happy Ganesh Chaturthi once again!!