Ganesh Chaturthi - Festival of Lords Birthday

Ganesh Chaturthi can be seen being celebrated with full fervor in Maharashtra. The beginning of the festival is marked with huge idols of Ganesh decorated in Mandaps or pandals. These Mandaps are set up in every locality. People of different religions, creed and caste participate in the festival with great zeal and enthusiasm. Cultural programs are part of this festival and it marks the birthday of “God of Wisdom” symbolizing good fortune and prosperity. The state can be visited during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi which is held in the month of 'Bhaarapada' according to Hindu calendar. It comes between 20th August and 15th September. During this time, you can experience the joy, festivity, enthusiasm and spirituality in the region.

Legend Behind The Festival

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesh was the son of goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Parvati breathed life into Ganesh whom she created out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath. Ganesh was asked to guard the entrance while Parvati bathed. When Lord Shiva returned, Ganesh did not allow him to enter as he didn’t know about him. This enraged Lord Shiva and asked his followers to teach some manners to the child. Being born to Parvati, Ganesh was extremely powerful and he defeated the followers of Lord Shiva and did not allow anyone to enter. Narad, the sage of heavens along with the Saptarishis sensed the increasing turmoil and tried to appease the child but in vain. This angered the king of God, Indra who attacked him with the entire heavenly army but they lost too. In anger, Shiva severed the head of Ganesh. This devastated Parvati and seeing her in such a condition, Shiva promised to bring him back to life. Then, the Devas looked for the head of dead person facing north, but all they found was the head of a dead elephant. The head was fixed on the boy’s head and he was brought to life. From that day, the boy was called Ganesh (Gana Isha: Lord of Ganas).

Ganesh was created by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati upon the request of the Devas. According to the Linga Purana, he was created for being a Vighnahartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of Rakshasas and a Vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help Devas achieve fruits of their hard work.

Rituals of Ganesh Chathurthi

The preparations for this festival start months before the festival. On the first day of the festival, beautifully decorated and crafted sculptures of Ganesh are installed in homes and mandaps that are adorned and decorated. On the first day, a ritual is performed involving phrases and verbal offerings to invite Lord Ganesh. The ritual also involves cleansing of the idol with milk, honey, butter, curd and jiggery known as the five nectars or Panchamrit in Sanskrit. It is this reason that Lord Ganesh is considered the most polite and soft in character.

Each locality tries to be better than the other one in terms of decoration and creation of Murti and Mandaps. Aarti is performed twice a day, in morning and evening when people assemble in large numbers to offer prayers and sing hymns from Shlokas or religious scriptures. Delicious sweet Modkas or Modagams which are Lord Ganesh’s favorite are distributed among the assembled devotees. The ten day festival involves cultural programs like music, dance, and orchestra. A tradition that was introduced by nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak involved discussions on current affairs and social issues is still followed.

Date of Celebration

The month of Bhaarapada during which the festival is observed, starts on Chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon). Usually, the date falls between 20 August and 20 September. The festival lasting for 10 to 12 days ends on Anant Chaturdashi. This festival is observed in the lunar month of Bhaarapada Shukla paksha Chaturthi madhyahana vyapini purvaviddha. In case Chaturthi prevails on both days, the first day should be observed. Also, the previous day should be observed even if Chaturthi prevails for the complete duration of madhyahana on the second day, and if it prevails on the previous day's madhyahana period even for one ghatika (24 minutes).

The Lord's Immersion Ritual

The final day, Anant Chaudas is the most important day of Ganesh Chaturthi. People dress up in their new clothes gather in a huge procession for the Visarjan ceremony of the Lord. This is the most important ceremony and an opportunity to attend it must not be missed. The Ganesh idols are immersed in the Arabian Sea with a lot of pomp and show. Fire crackers are burst to declare the arrival of the Ganesh murtis on flatbed trucks. Murtis are then carried to the Sea for immersion. People bid adieu and seek blessings with slogans of ‘Jai Ganesh’. This ceremony is a once in a lifetime experience and gives a true picture of Indian traditions and cultures.

Ganesh Chaturthi Calling

The zest of Maharashtra can be experienced by visiting the state during the time of Ganesh Chaturthi. The celebrations during this time are stunning and full of life and vivacity. The idols of Ganesh, pandals, singing, dancing, prayers and all other parts of this festival increase its charm. During the months of august to September, Maharashtra can be visited to experience the 10 day celebrations.


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