The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to honor the Hindu god Ganesh. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period) and lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period). People start celebrations by preparing months in advance by making eco-friendly idols, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha and decorating the idols. The size of these idols vary from inches to feet. Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mandapas (pandals) in many localites. The pandals are decorated using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc.. Some pandals are made theme based which depict religious themes, events related to Lord Ganesha or sometimes current events. The collective celebrations of Ganesha Chaturthi dates back to early 1890. At that time the society was divided on the basis of caste and relegious beliefs. LokManya Bal GangaDhar Tilak decided to bring the divided society into one thread and asked the people to come together and celebrate the festival in collective manners.
During the celebrations, the chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesha. This ritual is the Pranapratishhtha. After this, the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows during which Coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue of Lord Ganesha is anointed with red unguent, made of kumkum and sandalwood paste. The festival ends with Ganesha visarjana during which these installed statues of Lord ganesha are immersed into the water bodies sea and river.
Ganesh Chaturthi typically falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, usually between August and September. The festival holds immense spiritual and cultural importance:
Lord of Wisdom: Lord Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles and the deity of intellect and wisdom. Hindus seek his blessings at the beginning of any new endeavor.
Unity and Harmony: Ganesh Chaturthi transcends religious boundaries, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to celebrate. It promotes unity, harmony, and a sense of community.
The preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi begin weeks in advance:
Clay Idol: Artisans craft clay idols of Lord Ganesha, varying in size from small ones for homes to colossal ones for public pandals (temporary pavilions). These idols are beautifully adorned and carry intricate details.
Decorations: Homes and pandals are decorated with flowers, lights, and colorful rangoli (artwork made with colored powders). Devotees create a sacred space for Lord Ganesha's arrival.
Modak and Sweets: Modak, a sweet dumpling, is Lord Ganesha's favorite. Devotees prepare a variety of sweets and dishes as offerings.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day festival filled with devotion and enthusiasm:
Pranapratishtha: On the first day, the idol is installed with rituals and mantras in a special ceremony known as Pranapratishtha. This marks the beginning of Lord Ganesha's stay.
Daily Pujas: Throughout the festival, devotees perform daily pujas (prayer rituals) that include singing bhajans (devotional songs), offering food, and lighting lamps.
Visarjan: On the tenth day, a grand procession takes place as devotees bid farewell to Lord Ganesha. The idol is immersed in a body of water, symbolizing the deity's return to his heavenly abode. This is known as Ganesh Visarjan.
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the festival. To address this concern, many communities have shifted towards eco-friendly celebrations. Clay idols and natural, biodegradable materials are used instead of harmful chemicals and plastics. This sustainable approach ensures that the celebrations do not harm the environment.
Ganesh Chaturthi's appeal extends far beyond religious lines. People from various faiths and backgrounds participate in the festivities, showcasing the cultural diversity and unity of India. The festival has also gained popularity in other countries, where communities come together to celebrate the joy of Lord Ganesha's presence.
The festival is prominently celebrated in western part of India in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat apart from southern India and all over the world among hindu communities.
Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa
1: O Lord Ganesha, of Curved Trunk, Large Body, and with the Brilliance of a Million Suns, 2: Please Make All my Works Free of Obstacles, Always.
|Having good face
|Having one tusk
|destroyer of obstacles
|leader of Ganas
|chief of Ganas
|sporting moon on forehead
On this day, after bathing in the morning, an idol of Ganesha should be worshiped with gold, copper, silver, clay or cow dung. At the time of worship, we offer twenty-one Modakas and should offer twenty-one seedlings of Green Durva to the following ten names -
1. Gatapi, 2. Ghori Suman, 3. Aghanashak, 4. Ekadanta, 5. Ishputra, 6. Sarvasiddhiprada, 7. Vinayaka, 8. Kumar Guru, 9. Inbhakkatraya, 10. Mooshak Vahan Sant.
After that, out of twenty-one laddus, ten laddus should be donated to Brahmins and eleven laddus should be eaten by themselves.
Godess Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the idol. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. When Lord Shiva returned from outside and as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow Lord Shiva to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged and asked his follower Ganas to teach the child some manners. Ganesha being very powerful, defeated everyone and did not allow anyone to enter inside while his mother was taking bath. Finally angry Lord Shiva severed the head of the child Ganesha. After seeing this Godess Parvati became enraged and then Lord Shiva promised Her that the child will be alive again. The ganas searched for the head of person in North direction, but they could not find and human and instead brought the head of an elephant. Lord Shiva fixed it on the child's body and brought him back to life.