In the Bhavishya Purana, Durva is stated to have appeared from Lord Vishnu’s hands and thighs as he bolstered Mount Mandara during the Samudra Manthan
88,000 sages conducted Archana for the Lord Ganesha with 21 blades of the Durva grass which cured his stomach from the heat of swallowing a demon
Durva is tied together, dipped in water for freshness, and then offer to the deity’s feet first and then the rest of the body
The Durva grass has long been used in Hindu rituals, especially by those who worship Lord Ganesha. Durva means “which is cut or eaten by animals” in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda and the Atharvana Veda mention the Durva grass. In the Bhavishya Purana, Durva is stated to have appeared from Lord Vishnu’s hands and thighs as he bolstered Mt. Mandara during the Samudra Manthan. Moreover, in the Vamana Purana, Durva surfaced from the tail of Vasuki, the snake used to churn the Ocean during the same Manthana.
Legend has it that, in the Puranas, once while Lord Ganesha was meditating, a celestial singer disturbed him to extend an invitation of marriage. After the god rejected her proposal, she cursed him. This caused a burning sensation on his head for which Ganesha placed Durva on his head. The Durva grass offered relief and resulted in recuperation.
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However, the most popular of the fables is that there was once a demon called Analasur who petrified the world and the gods. The gods asked Lord Shiva to protect them from the demon and in return Shiva pointed them to Lord Ganesha. So, they then approached Ganesha who fought a ferocious battle with Analasur and ended up swallowing him to protect the gods.
This built-up a lot of heat in his body and caused him duress. The Lord Indra then gave him the moon to wear on his forehead, and Lord Vishnu gave him a lotus flower, but none could cool him down. The Lord Vishnu made it rain on Ganesha, but to no yield. Finally, 88,000 sages conducted Archana for the Lord with 21 blades of the Durva grass which cured his stomach.
It is for this reason that Lord Ganesha is worshipped with 21 blades of the grass on Ganesh Chaturthi each year. Durva is also known to attract the Ganapati Principle the most. The use of odd numbers (minimum of 21) of the grass further promotes the entry of the divine energy into the idol. Durva is tied together, dipped in water for freshness, and then offer to the deity’s feet first and then the rest of the body. This is said to attract Ganesha the best as the principle of a deity is strongest though the feet of an idol.
– by Varsha Gupta. Twitter: @VarshaGupta94