India’s culture and heritage have inspired many famous people in the world. This country is full of awe and mystery and one lifetime isn’t enough to explore the depths of this incredible country. The fairs and festivals of India are never-ending and that is why it is said that in India, you will find 13 festivals in 12 months which is originally translated from a Bengali saying, “Baro maashey Tero Parbon”. People are so vibrant and jovial that they want to take in the pleasures of life through merrymaking and celebrations.
As stated already, India is a land abundant in celebrations, fairs and festivals and one such grand festival is celebrated every year in the month of September in Maharashtra called Ganesh Chaturthi. In this festival, the devotees of Lord Ganesha worship the deity and ask for his love, blessings and mercy to keep mankind going. This day is marked as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha represents wisdom, good fortune and prosperity. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated throughout the country but the major festival happens in Maharashtra.
The story behind Ganesh Chaturthi
Lord Ganesh is the elephant-headed Hindu deity who is also the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesha has 108 different names, he is ‘Vighna harta’ meaning his blessings can help anybody overcome any sort of obstacle, he is also called ‘Buddhi Pradayaka’ meaning he can grant intelligence and there are numerous other names for Lord Ganesha.
Mythology has it that Goddess Parvati is the creator of Lord Ganesha. What was once the dirt of her body went on to become Lord Ganesha. She created him so that he can keep an eye on the front door of her bathing room so that nobody can enter while she takes her bath. In the meanwhile, while Parvati was taking bath and Ganesha was guarding the front door, Lord Shiva hurriedly came and wanted to see Parvati. Ganesha remained true to his duties and stopped Shiva from entering and this action of his made Lord Shiva very angry. Well, Lord Shiva didn’t know that Parvati created Lord Ganesha to keep an eye on the front door. The enraged Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head and killed him. When Parvati came out she saw her son lying dead in front of her and that made Parvati very angry yet sad and she blamed Shiva…Shiva was very much ashamed of what he did and promised that he will bring Ganesha back to life. The gods went in search of a head and only could get hold of an elephant’s head. So, Shiva had no alternative but to attach the head on to the child’s body and gradually brought him back to life. This is one version of the myth the other version goes like… The gods were absolutely petrified by the rising army and strength of the demons (asuras) which is why they begged in front of Shiva for a way out. Shiva and Parvati together created Lord Ganesha and he was to be the Vighnahartaa (terminator of all obstacles) for the gods.
Facts related to Ganesh Chaturthi
The fourth day, when the moon is in the waxing phase (Shukla Chaturthi), is the time when Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all throughout India. The celebration ends and the idols are immersed in holy water on the 14th day when the moon is still in the waxing period (Anant Chaturdashi).
Maharashtra in India is known to celebrate this festival lavishly although there are other states as well where this festival is celebrated with a splendour such as if you go to Hyderabad in Telangana, the Ganesh Chaturthi organized in Khairatabad is a major crowd puller. People bring small Ganesha idols and worship it at home for prosperity and opulence.
How is Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in Maharashtra?
The celebrations are done large scale, beautiful, colourful and themed pandals are erected and the idol of Lord Ganesha is worshipped for ten days at a stretch.
The worshipping part consists of four major rituals that are mandatory. The first one is Pranapratishhtha which means creating the idol of the deity. The second one is shhodashopachara which means Lord Ganesha is paid tribute in 16 different forms. The third one is uttarpuja which means the puja which is done after shifting the idol once it is completed, continues for ten days. The fourth one is Ganpati Visarjan which means the idol is immersed in the river after worshipping it.
Modak is a sweet dish and is considered to the favourite sweet of Lord Ganesha. People love to eat the sweet as it is extremely tasty. Modak is an important part of the Puja (worship) without this sweet Ganesh Puja is not complete. This specific sweet is made of rice flour, jaggery, coconuts and dry fruits. Twenty-one pieces of Modak should be offered to Lord Ganesha.
Shivaji the great Maratha ruler started celebrating this festival and he made it grand and huge. However, Bhausaheb Laxman Javale was the first man to install the first Ganesh idol meant to be viewed by the public.
The fairs in Maharashtra during the Ganpati Puja are worth visiting. So, pack your bags and get ready to enjoy the country’s wonderful Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra.
Some of the famous temples you can visit during this festival are – Manache Ganpati in Pune, the Ashtavinayak temples situated around Pune, Siddhivinayak temple. It is believed that all your wishes come true when you pray with all your heart in Siddhivinayak temple, Mumbai… many celebrities, politicians and big dignitaries walk barefooted till Siddhivinayak to show devotion towards Lord Ganesha.
Adasa Ganpati Temple in Nagpur is yet another beautiful place you can visit, Padmalaya Ganesh Temple in Jalgaon; this one is unique and fills your mind with tranquillity and sanctity. Furthermore, you can visit, Navshya Ganpati temple in Nashik, Ganpatipule Ganesh Temple in Ratnagiri, etc.
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in other places
Today this festival is considered to be one of the greatest festivals in the entire world and people don’t discriminate based on caste and creed or rich and poor. This festival has brought together people from all rungs of the society; their hearts and souls to celebrate this grand festival with pomp and pleasure.
One of the interesting facts regarding Ganesh Chaturthi is the fact that people from Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Trinidad, China, Nepal and some parts of Afghanistan worship lord Ganesha.
Ganesha puja is always done first in Sanatan dharma. Ganesha also has a name which is ‘Prathamaradhya’ which means he is the one who will be always worshipped first because he is Vighna Harta and a successful accomplisher. So, to avoid any sort of obstacle or struggle Lord Ganesha is worshipped first and this was a boon from Lord Shiva to Lord Ganesha.
You will find Ganesh Puja happening in Karnataka, West Bengal, North India and many other places of India. With time people are moving towards making eco-friendly Ganesh idols because these Ganesh Idols play a major role in polluting the water bodies and the impacts are understood after the Ganpati Visarjan.
Many companies now are coming up with eco-friendly colours, eco-friendly material so that this Ganesh Chaturthi may bring peace, prosperity and resplendence in everybody’s life and the environment too.