Lord Ganesha is one of the most popular Gods. Every year people wait for this great festival of Ganesh Chaturthi with great anticipation.
What Ganesh Chaturthi means? Why do we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi?
Sanatana Dharma is an eternal religion & Hinduism is a way of life that has evolved over thousands of years.
Although Hinduism believes in one Absolute power, deities were created to concentrate our focus on spiritualism.
Gods & deities were created to denote different aspects of life so that people could identify with their mode of life or a specific problem.
One of the most popular Gods is Lord Ganesha, the God of new beginning & remover of obstacles. He is also the God of prosperity & wisdom.
Every year people wait for this great festival with great anticipation. Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha, which usually falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapad, (Aug/Sept).
How do we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi?
In India, the celebrations are done either at home or in large public places. The preparations for the festival start weeks in advance when artisans make murtis ranging from 2cm to over 20m.
Public celebrations are organized by youth groups, neighborhood associations, with funds raised through residents & local tradesmen.
The festival features cultural activities such as music, dance & theatrical performances, community activities such as free medical check-ups & blood-donation facilities.
Other public events are reading of texts, athletic & martial arts competitions & group feasting.
What do we do on Ganesh Chaturthi?
A day before the festival, Gauri pooja or Lord Shiva & Parvati are worshipped, with women fasting to invoke a spiritual experience.
There are 4 main rituals during the festival:
- The entire house is first given a thorough clean, & a clay idol of Ganesha is brought in, symbolising the God’s visit.
The idol is anointed with red sandalwood paste & worshipped with red hibiscus flowers & strands of young grass.
Vedic hymn from Ganesh Upanishads are chanted to infuse the deity into the murti/idol.
Artis are recited by friends & family in the morning and at night.
- 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha are performed.
- The idol is shifted after its infusion, into a placed into a pandal or temporary shrine.
Puja is performed where 21 pieces of a special dish called Modak, made of rice flour, grated jaggery, coconut & dry fruits are placed at his feet. The Lord is worshipped for 10 days.
- On the last day, the concluding day, known as Anant Charurdashi, Visarjan takes place, when idols are ceremoniously immersed in running river.
A huge procession of devotees accompanying the idol takes place.
It is believed that Lord Ganesha returns to Mount Kailash to join his parents, Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati.
How long is Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated?
Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival but some families have the tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th or 7th day.
What is the moral of Ganesh Chaturthi?
The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi also denotes the significance of the cycle of birth, life, and death.
It is believed that when the idol of the Ganesha is taken out for immersion, it also takes away with it, the various obstacles of the house, and these obstacles are destroyed along with the visarjan. That is why he is worshipped as the remover of obstacles.
Who started Ganpati festival?
Ganesh Chaturthi became a gala public event when Maratha King Shivaji in 1630, encouraged nationalist sentiment against the Mughals.
After the start of the British Raj, the Ganesh festival lost its grand public celebrations to private family events as in 1892, the British passed the anti-public assembly legislation, which banned Hindu gatherings of more than 20 people.
In 1893, the Indian nationalist leader, Bal Lokmanya Tilak revived the festival from a domestic event to a large public festival to unite the Hindus to fight against the British colonial rule.
Tilak was the first to install large Ganesh idols in public places and staged intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, plays, folk & classical dance & music. This has carried on till today.
Which states in India celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi?
Today the festival is celebrated throughout the world. It is even a public holiday in Mauritius!
In India, Ganesh Chaturthi is called by different names according to the local dialect:
- Maharashtra: Ganesh Utsav
- Goa: Chavath
- Tamil Nadu: Vinayaka Chaturthi
- Kerala: Lamboodhara piranalu