Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha. It is celebrated for ten days straight starting from Shukla Chaturthi (the fourth day of the moon's waxing phase) to Anant Chaturdashi (the fourteenth day of the moon's waxing phase) in the month of Bhadrapad as per the Hindu Calendar.
Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu God, is considered to be the God of new beginnings and remover of obstacles. People worship him first before any other Hindu God. He is thought to bring good luck which is why people pray and seek his blessings before starting anything new.
Lord Ganesha is also considered to be the God of knowledge, wisdom, wealth, sciences, and prosperity.
Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated grandly primarily in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Other than that, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh also celebrate this festival with much fervor.
Before the start of the ten-day celebration, craftsmen make idols of Lord Ganesha out of clay. Usually, its size ranges from three-fourths of one inch to more than 25 feet. As per Hindu traditions, when people bring the idol home or other places for worship, the face of the idol is covered with a cloth.
When the Ganesh Chaturthi celebration starts, the idol is placed on raised platforms inside homes or outside. These platforms are cleaned and decorated beforehand.
Pranapratishhtha Puja is performed by the priest next. The term 'Pranapratishhtha' means bringing the idol of the god to life through prayers and rituals. Flowers, sweets, coconuts, jaggery, and other things are offered to the idol.
After this, Shhodashopachara Puja is performed. Sixteen types of prayers are performed in this ritual.
On the tenth or last day of Ganesh Chaturthi, Uttarpuja is performed to bid farewell to Lord Ganesha. People from all over the nation offer flowers and food and light lamps to mark the departure of their God.
Finally, right after Uttarpuja, the idol of Lord Ganesh is immersed in water bodies. For this, the idol is first loaded on a vehicle such as a truck which is then taken to the nearest river or other water body. The truck is followed by a procession of people who sing and dance.
It is believed that on the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi, when the idol is immersed in water, Lord Ganesh returns to his beloved parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on Mount Kailash (considered to be the home of Lord Shiva as per Hindu beliefs).
It is also said that when Lord Ganesh is taken from home to water bodies for immersion, he carries all the obstacles and problems of the household along with him and destroys them.
The Story Behind Ganesh Chaturthi
As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati created a boy out of the dirt from her body so that he could guard her while she went to take a bath. She named him Ganesha.
While she was taking a bath, her husband, Lord Shiva, came but was stopped by Ganesha. Even after Lord Shiva tried to explain multiple times, Ganesha did not let him enter. This angered him which is why he killed Ganesha by cutting off his neck with his 'Trishul' or trident.
After this incident, Lord Shiva went inside and told Goddess Parvati everything. She became furious and demanded that unless her son Ganesha is brought back alive, she will not step out. Thus, Lord Shiva immediately ordered his followers to bring the head of a child whose mother had her back turned toward him.
Shiva's followers could not find a human child. Instead, they spotted a baby elephant whose mother's face was turned against him and they brought his head. Lord Shiva immediately attached the elephant's head to his body and gave him life. He also declared that from now, people would worship Ganesha before everyone, or else their prayer will not be fruitful.
Interesting beliefs about Lord Ganesha
Hindu Gods generally have a 'vahana' or mount which is a vehicle used to carry them around. Lord Ganesha's mount is a mouse.
There are different beliefs regarding the marital status of Lord Ganesha. While people who reside in South India consider him to be a Brahmachari (a person who abstains from marriage and sexual relations), others believe that he had two wives- Goddesses Riddhi and Siddhi.
Lord Ganesh is known by many other names such as Vinayaka, Ganpati, Vigneswara, Ganesamoorthy, and Aanaimugha.
Lord Ganesh loves Modak, a type of Indian dumpling made with sweet coconut jaggery and rice flour.