Ganesha Chaturthi: The Great Ganesha Festival
Also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’, Ganesha Chaturthi is the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom and prosperity and celebrated around the world. The festival of Ganesha Chaturthi is observed during the month of Bhadrapada (mid-August to mid-September). The festival is a grand affair in western Indian state of Maharashtra. The festival lasts for 10 days and end on the day of ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’. The occasion is celebrated with great religious observance, enthusiasm, devotional songs and drum beats which are part of the procession observed by devotees of Lord Ganesha. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with a belief that Lord Ganesha bestows His blessings on this day.
Legends behind Ganesh Chaturthi
Legend behind is that Mata Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood dough that she used for her bath. After creating it she infused life into him. Letting him stand guard at the door she went to take her bath. At that time Lord Shiva arrived and tried to enter the house. Little child who had never seen him stopped him saying that without his mother’s permission he would not let anybody go inside. Angry Lord Shiva severed the head of the child and entered the house. Parvati, learning that her son is dead, was very upset and asked Shiva to revive him or else she would end her life. Lord Shiva then ordered his followers to bring the head of a child whose mother is facing in another direction in negligence. The first child that came to the notice of the followers was an elephant. They brought the head and Lord Shiva fixed it on the body of Ganesha. After this Ganesha received blessings from several other Gods and was named Ganesha as the Lord of all Ganas (followers).
Ganesha Chaturthi customs and rituals
Ganesh Chaturthi is a major festival of India and celebrated in a grand manner in Maharashtra. The festival is marked by many customs and rituals. Two or three months prior to the main day clay models of Lord Ganesha are prepared for sale. This is done by skilled artisans who decorate the Lord in various ways to match the religious theme. A day before the main day house is cleaned and even whitewashed, especially the place where the idol is to be placed. Ganesha idols after being brought are carried with faces covered with saffron cloth. In the evening of the first day the “sthapana” or the installation of the idol takes place. All family members gather together and a priest perform a ritual by which the idol is filled with life. After the installation puja takes place. During the puja, a sweet called “modak” is offered to the god along with flowers and the ritual of the first day is completed. After that the sweets are distributed among the devotees as Prasada. Throughout the ten days of the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol of Lord Ganesha is worshipped with devotional songs and simple recitations. Flowers, sweets and lamps are offered to God.
The tenth day of the festival
The festival comes to an end on the tenth day “Ananta Chaturdashi”. A long procession is held. Thousands of devotees join the procession accompanied by drums and chanting ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya’. Finally with heavy heart the idol is immersed in the water.
Ganesh Chaturthi Myth
There is a myth associated with the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi. The myth says that anyone who looks at the moon on the night of Ganesh Chaturthi will be falsely accused of something. If anybody happens to see the moon unintentionally then can help ward of trouble but if the incident is intentional then the consequences will be bad. The basis of this myth is associated with a popular legend of Lord Ganesha who is fond of sweets especially laddoos.