It’s that time of the year again. With Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganpati is back to engage with the people during a festival full of colour, energy and, of course, Modak.
Through Ganesh Chaturthi, India celebrates the birth anniversary of the god of new beginnings, wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, Lord Ganesha. The Ganeshotsavor Shukla Chaturthimarks the beginning of the festival which concludes after 10 days as Ganesh Visarjanor Anant Chaturdashi.
This year, Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated from 13 September till 23 September. The ideal time for Madhyahna Ganesh Puja 2018 starts from 11:03 a.m. till 1:30 p.m.
How It All Began
According to Hindu mythology, the story of Ganesha’s birth dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that in the absence of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati created Ganesha by her sandalwood paste while she was taking a bath.
One day, she ordered Ganesha to guard her room. As Lord Shiva arrived, he wished to meet Goddess Parvati and got enraged by Ganesha’s refusal to let him enter Parvati’s room. In a fit of anger, Shiva beheaded his son.
Witnessing the beheaded son, Goddess Parvati took the form of Goddess Kali and warned that she would destroy the world. In order to calm the furious Parvati, Lord Shiva ordered his followers to bring him a child’s head but they bought the head of an elephant instead.
Shiva then placed the elephant head on Ganesha’s body and resurrected him. That was how the elephant-headed God, known as Lord Ganesha appeared.
Ganpati Bappa Moraya
Although it is not clearly known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated in India, many historians trace it back to the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. The great Maratha ruler, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, initiated the festival in Maharashtra to uphold culture and the feeling of nationalism among his people.
In 1857, during the Independence struggle, freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak revived the Ganpati tradition and turned it into a grand public occasion. He was the first to place large Ganesh figures on the tenth day of the festival in pavilions.
A Grand Celebration
The 10-day celebration commences with the installation of a clay idol of Ganesha at homes, temples, housing societies, and other public places. People decorate their homes with flowers and lights to welcome Lord Ganesha.
Devotees visit temples to perform prayers and sing songs. Individual homes and residential localities collectively install Ganesha idols to celebrate the festival.
For the next 10 days, Lord Ganesha is worshipped in the morning as well in the evening. However, domestic celebrations can be concluded after 1 1⁄2, 3, 5, 7 or 11 days.
Tradition And Devotion
After bathing the idol with water, flowers are offered to Lord Ganesha. Modak (a traditional sweet made of flour) is offered to the idol as it is the favourite sweet of Lord Ganesha along with karanji, barfi, laddu and peda.
The plate which contains modak should contain 21 pieces of sweets for offering. Earthen lamps are lighted and the Aarti is sung. The fire from the lamp denotes life and Vighnaharta Ganesha is believed to be the one who takes care of all the troubles and obstacles in our lives.
The four main rituals after installing the idol include Pranapratishhtha (infusing life into an idol), Shhodashopachara (16 forms of prayers), Uttarpuja (Puja after which the idol can be shifted) and Ganpati Visarjan.
It is said that during these 10 days, Lord Ganesha visits the place once and blesses the people with good life, wisdom, health, prosperity and success.
On Ganesh Visarjan, the final day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol is taken for immersion in a river or other water bodies. People display their love, joy and enthusiasm through dancing, singing and spraying colours on the streets in a procession carrying the idol.
Festivity Beyond Borders
But with the Indian population spreading all over the globe, Ganesh Chaturthi has now become a festival celebrated internationally.People in countries like Mauritius, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, USA and the United Kingdom celebrate it with great passion and devotion.