Ganesh Chaturthi

Festivals in India are contagious and cross all the linguistic and religious barriers. The charm and grandeur are so pervasive that it becomes hard to recognize which community or the class any particular celebration belongs to. All the status elements, fanaticism, and though of separation take a back seat. People do not want to be recognized as any particular group of section of the society. They forget all the social boundaries and get immersed in the festive mood.

Nowhere in the world can anyone find occasions celebrated with such grandeur, dignified and glorified manner. Many celebrations in India have spread the message of brotherhood and harmony. And the most famous, and eagerly waited among them is the Ganesh Chaturthi, which is celebrated as the birthday of the Lord Ganesh who blesses his devotees with knowledge, insight and prosperity.

Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

Lord Ganesh is the favourite god of Hindus. He is lovingly called as Ganapati, Ganesha, Ganaraya, Bal Ganesh, Sankatmochan, and Vignaharta. In India, every venture whether it is commercial, educational, or stepping into a newly purchased car or a flat start by praying to Lord Ganesh, since it is regarded as a good luck. For Indians, the birthday of Sankatmochan which means destroyer of all obstructions is a way of celebrating life. This day falls in the lunar month of Bhadrapada and on the fourth day of the Shukla Paksha Chaturthi.

Legend of Lord Ganesh

According to Skanda Purana, when Goddess Parvati had to take a bath, she needed someone to guard the area so that no can enter it. She took a piece of dough and created a mould out of it. After that, she infused life into it which takes a form of Lord Ganesh. Then she makes her to guard the place till she finishes her bath. Till then, neither Lord Shiva nor Ganesh knew each other. When Lord Shiva was denied entry, he orders his ganas to teach some manner to the arrogant child. Since Ganesh was the creation of the Goddess Parvati, the god of power, Ganesh easily defeats them. This makes Lord Shiva angry and he cut the head of Ganesh off his body. When Parvati comes to know about the death of his son, she pleads to Shiva to make him alive. To oblige his wife, Shiva starts searching for a head to fix in the body. However, he could not find a human head and instead replace it with an elephant, which was lying dead in the forest. This is how Ganesh gets an elephant head.

Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration

As Ganesh Chaturthi approaches, the festive fever start gripping people. People are so exuberant that they start counting the arrival of the coveted day. Many skilled artists start preparing the idols of clay few months in advance. The size of the idol is from a few inches to several feet. The tallest Ganesh idol in India is recorded to be 70 feet tall in Vishakhapatnam. The idols are also made in many poses depicting various moods of Lord Ganesh.

Mandals starts collecting donation form shops, offices and houses for the decoration and preparation of the pandals. People decorate their homes for welcoming Ganesh. The highlight of this festival is the embellishment done by various groups or mandals. Pune and Mumbai cities are well-known for the beautification works. The embellishment also includes lighting which add glaring effects when the sun goes down and the lights are on.

A procession is drawn on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. People place the statue of the lord in a beautiful ox-drawn chariot or with the engine power. Music is played on loud speakers and people dance in front of the lord to express their happiness. Every morning and evening, aarti is performed and modak, which is a favorite dish of Ganesh, is offered to the god. This modak is made of sugar, jaggery filled with rice pudding which is boiled and cooked in oil.

During the ten days of this festival, lots of cultural activities are organized by social groups. Devotees visit temples and queue in front of the pandal for Lord's darshan. They bring with them modak, flowers and coconut for the god and seek his blessing. The last day is the tenth day which is known as Anant Chaturthi. On this day, people give a farewell to the lord and carries him in a decorative float and immerse it in the river and the sea. With so many processions carried out by hundreds of mandals, its goes on beyond 24 hours.

Celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesh on Ganesh Chaturthi was first started by Great Shivaji Maharaj. It was later revived by Balgangadhar Lokmanya Tilak in 1893. Since then, the tradition of observing the birth of Lord Ganesh has been followed in India, and it signifies a strong unity among the people of India.