Ganesh Chaturthi: Your Refresher on the Festival of Lord Ganesha

Mar/21/2022 / by Richa Sharma
Ganesh Chauth
Image credits: Pexels

Ganesh Chaturthi, also comprehended as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaviti, is a Hindu festival commemorating Lord Ganesh’s earthly entrance with his mother Goddess Parvati/Gauri from Kailash Parvat. The event is commemorated by the erection of Lord Ganesh’s clay murtis individually in households and officially in 1893 in Pune by Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak, better known as Lokmanya Tilak (temporary stages). The singing of Vedic hymns and Hindu literature such as prayers and vrata are observed (fasting).

The daily prayers’ offerings and Prasada are delivered from the pandal to the community. These include delicacies such as modaka, which is a favorite of Lord Ganesh. The celebration concludes on the tenth day after it begins when the idol is brought in a public parade accompanied by music and group chanting and finally immersed in a local body of water called visarjan.

Following that, the clay idol is said to crumble, and Ganesh returns to Mount Kailash to be with Parvati and Shiva. The event honors Lord Ganesh as the Deity of New Beginnings and Obstacles and the god of knowledge and intellect. It is celebrated across India, particularly in Maharashtra and Goa.

On the Gregorian calendar, Ganesh Chaturthi is observed annually between August 22 and September 20. This year, it will take place on Wednesday, August 31.

The Festival of Ganesh

Ganesh Chauth
Image credits: The Print

Although the origins of Ganesh Chaturthi are unclear, the event has been publicly observed in Pune since the reign of King Shivaji (1630–1680, founder of the Maratha Empire). In the 18th century, the Peshwa were followers of Ganesh, and they established a public Ganesh festivity in their capital city of Pune during the month of Bhadrapada. Following the establishment of the British Raj, the Ganesh festival fell out of favor with the state. It became a private family celebration in Maharashtra until it was revived by Indian independence warrior and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.

Months in advance, public preparations for the celebrations begin. Local Mandapa or Pandals are often supported by local citizens via contributions or are organized by companies or community groups. In Maharashtra, creating the Murti usually starts with “Padya pooja,” or worshiping Lord Ganesh’s feet. The day before the event begins, the Murtis are carried to “pandals.” The pandals are ornately decorated and illuminated.

Home preparations for the holiday include purchasing puja goods or accessories a few days in advance and hiring the Ganesh murti up to a month in advance (from local artisans). The Murti is either carried home the day before or on the actual day of Ganesh Chaturthi. On the festival day, the proper installation of the clay murti (idol) is performed at an auspicious portion of the day, accompanied by chanting of holy mantras and pooja, including bhajans. Before installing the idol, families adorn a small, tidy area of the home with flowers and other bright decorations. When the Murti is placed, flowers and other materials beautify it and its shrine.

Celebrating in India

In India, Ganesh Chaturthi is primarily observed at home and in public by local community groups in the central and western states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Goa, as well as the southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, as well as the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha, and the northeastern state of Assam.

Domestic Celebration of Ganesh Chauth

Ganesh Chauth
Image credits: TV9 Hindi

Ganeshotsav is the name given to Ganesh Chaturthi. During the event, families construct miniature clay sculptures for adoration. Morning and evening gifts of flowers, durva (strands of young grass), karanji, and modaks are made to the Murti (jaggery and coconut flakes wrapped in rice flour dumplings). The devotion concludes with the singing of an aarti dedicated to Ganesh, other Gods, and Saints.

Domestic festivities conclude after 12 days, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, or 11 days. The Murti is then ceremoniously carried to a body of water (such as a lake, river, or the sea) for immersion.

Public Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chauth
Image credits: Venue Look

The festival’s public festivities are popular and are organized by local youth organizations, neighborhood associations, and tradesmen groups. The public festival is funded via contributions from members of the group that organizes the event, local residents, and companies. The festival includes cultural activities such as singing, theatrical, and symphonic concerts and community events such as free medical examinations, blood donation locations, and charitable gifts. The Ganesh idols and accompanying sculptures are put in mandaps or pandals, temporary shelters.

FAQs About Ganesh Chauth

Why is Ganesh Chauth celebrated?

The event honors Lord Ganesh as the Deity of New Beginnings and Obstacles and the god of knowledge and intellect. It is celebrated across India, particularly in Maharashtra and Goa.

Who started Vinayaka Chavithi?

The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi dates back to the Maratha era when Chatrapati Shivaji instituted it. The account of Ganesha’s birth, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, provides the basis for the belief. Although several tales surround his birth, the most pertinent one is recounted here.

Why is Ganesha immersed in water?

The practice is performed to symbolize Lord Ganesha’s birth cycle; just as he was produced from clay/earth, so is his symbolic statue. The idol is submerged in water to symbolize Ganesha’s return home after his stay at the devotees’ house or temple where the Ganesha Chaturthi rites are performed.

What should we do on Ganesh Chauth?

Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated with great joy, whether in pandals, temples, or homes. People of all ages attend the celebration with tremendous delight and commitment. Individuals sing, dance, and set off fireworks. Ganesha is worshiped to say goodbye with a lovely chant of mantras, aarti, and flowers.

Conclusion

Now that you know everything about Ganesh Chaturthi, it’s time to get ready to celebrate this festival with a lot of pomp and love! For more blogs about popular Indian festivals, keep reading Seema!