Introduction: The Hindu festival ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ is commemorated as the birthday of the Obstacle-averter ‘Lord Ganesha’ all over India with immense enthusiasm and zeal. The deity Ganesha is the son of lord Shiva-the destroyer & his consort Parvati. Being the god bestowing wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, deity Ganesh is worshipped at the beginning of any new venture of life. Thus, this festival is also called ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’.
Festive eve: This festival falls in the Hindu month of ‘Bhaadrapada’ as per Hindu calendar. The festive ceremony starts from the Shukla Chaturthi, i.e. the fourth day of the waxing moon period, & lasts till 10 days when Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period) occur.
Festival Observed in nations: India, Canada, the United States, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Combodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.
History: The customary tradition of ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ was begun by Shivaji during 1630-1680 who was the founder of the Maratha Empire. This celebration came into effect since the forgone Emperor began celebrating this eve since Ganesha was their family deity (Kuldevta). The downfall of Peshwas restricted this festival as a family affair in Pune but the celebration procedure was revived by the freedom fighter and famous social reformer called ‘Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak’. Freedom fighting was a unanimous effort required contribution from everyone irrespective of any caste, creed or religion. Thus, the renowned reformer urged every patriotic soul to rise above any enmity or difference to serve the motive of ‘winning freedom’. So, he used this festive eve to bridge the gap among people of varied religion, caste or creed.
Tilak brought this festival to the national front for generating national fervor in Maharashtra against colonial rule. He installed the idol of ‘Ganapati’ and then submerged it into the fathom on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturdashi.
Legend: The narration in scripture in context of the incarnation of lord Ganesha goes that the consort of lord Shiva, i.e. Parvati, carved an image of a child using the paste of Sandalwood that she applied before taking a bath. Blowing life to the sculpted image, she deployed ‘Bal-Ganesha’ at the door where she took bath. In the meanwhile, lord Shiva returned and desired to meet Parvati. Unknown to the fact that the deity standing in front was his own father, child Ganesh denied him to enter. Shiva’s face turned red due to immense anger for being denied. He ordered his Ganas to teach that small child a lesson of manners. Imbued with superpowers of Devi Shakti, his mother Parvati, he defeated Shiva’s followers. Since the child Ganesha conquered Indra-the king of heaven and his army, Shiva grew arrogant and beheaded Ganesha. On seeing this massacre, his consort Parvati burnt with fury. For pacifying the anger of Devi Shakti for averting havoc, Shiva transplanted the head of an elephant to bring Ganesha to life. Since that day, child Ganesh was proclaimed as ‘Ganesha’.
Rituals: The preparation for this festival begins two to three months before the festival. Artisans carve beautiful sculptures of Lord Ganesha and then, give them elegant look in vivid poses. The size of the sculpture may vary from ¾ an inch to more than 70 feet. People install an idol in pandals or in houses temporarily for 10 days. The entire pandal is adorned with floral petals, garlands, rainbow lights and lamps as per chosen theme.
The priest offers prayer while wearing red or white Dhoti and Uttariyam (Shawl) chanting ved-mantra (hymns) for evoking the presence of deity in the ambience. This ritualistic rite is known as ‘Pranpratishthha’ that is followed by another ritual called Shhodasshopachara. Offering to the deity comprises Modak, Coconut, Jaggery, Durva blades of grass and red flowers. Vermillion is anointed to the forehead of the statue and the hymns scripted in Rig Veda are echoed.
Then, on 11th day it is immersed into the lake, ocean, river or in tub also.