Hindus believe that Lord Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, and also his blessings bring out the best in anything. In any Indian household, he is considered to be a God of wealth, knowledge, wisdom, and prosperity, and thus, most people seek his blessings before starting any important work. Any new work begins with a mantra, “Om Shri Ganeshaye Namah.” This article discusses the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in detail.
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chavithi is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Ganesha. It is a 10-day long festival, celebrated by many with utmost zeal and fervor. It is one of those festivals which is celebrated with utmost excitement by the Indians, especially those residing in the state of Maharashtra. It is said that Lord Ganesha’s birthday is celebrated at this time. Ganesh Chaturthi is a larger-than-life festival. The celebration takes place in the Bhadra month as per the Hindu calendar which generally falls in mid-August to September. Thus, the dates of the festival differ from year to year. Sweets and gifts are exchanged and people start preparing to send Ganesh Chathurthi gifts to their loved ones early.
There are many stories about the birth of Ganesha. Regardless of the truth behind his birth, one thing that remains common is his eternal love for Modak. It has been one of his favorite foods since childhood. For those who don’t know how a modak looks or what its basic ingredients are, it is a sweet dumpling. Modaks are made by people using a filling of coconut and jaggery. They are either fried or steamed. People at home and in sweet shops prepare this sweet delicacy. They are mostly in demand around Ganesha Chaturthi. There is not even a single person who dislikes this sweet so, if it is on your list of Ganesh Chaturthi gifts then it's a good option. It is a major hit amongst the children.
Nothing can stop people from celebrating the occasion. The pandals are made either in homes, temples, or localities. The celebration mainly witnesses four major rituals, namely:
1. Pranapratistha, wherein the statue is decorated with flowers, garlands, and lights. Many people come together to pray and sing various folk songs. A priest is seen chanting mantra to invoke life in the deity.
2. Shodashopachara, wherein prayers are offered to the Lord.
3. Uttarpuja is a ritual wherein it is believed that all the pavitraks (Vibrations of Shri Ganapati tattva) leave the Idol at once. Thus, whosoever performs the puja now, becomes a direct recipient of the Lord’s blessings. This ritual is also considered important because everyone bids him farewell with deep respect.
4. Ganpati Visarjan (immersion) is the final stage. He is believed to go back to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati after the immersion. The visarjan has to take place either on the same day of the Uttarpuja or immediately on the day after it. The idol is to be immersed either in the river, sea, or ocean. While carrying out the immersion procession, people are heard chanting in the Marathi language 'Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya' which means 'Goodbye Lord, please come back next year'.
Though we celebrate the happy occasion every year, only some people know the appropriate idol to be used in the puja. It is also believed that if an idol is not made and placed properly, then not much spiritual benefit reaches the worshipper. The wellness of the worshipper depends upon the elements used in the making of the idol. It is believed that an idol made of:
1. Cow dung, Peepal, and Neem tree – Brings fortune and removes bad luck
2. Turmeric – Bring good luck
3. Crystal – Removes all Vastu Dosha
4. Silver - Brings fame
5. Brass – Promotes good health
6. Wood – Brings happiness
The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi takes place on an immensely large scale. It is much before the actual occasion that happiness can be visibly seen on everyone’s faces. The shops and the entire market remain crowded, as everyone wants to go out and buy new clothes for themselves and their loved ones to send Ganesh Chaturthi gifts for their loved ones. Every morning is about bathing, putting on new clothes, and following the traditional rituals of chanting mantras and songs.
Towards the end of the festival, people carry out a full-fledged procession. The idol immersion denotes freedom from all kinds of evil and suffering. Ganesh Chaturthi is particularly famous for unifying people, irrespective of color, caste, or creed.