Herald: What is Ganesh Chaturthi? Why is it celebrated?

What is Ganesh Chaturthi? Why is it celebrated?

13 Sep 2018 05:19am IST
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13 Sep 2018 05:19am IST

Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chauth, will be celebrated on September 13. 

It is the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha - the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. 

The elephant-headed God Ganesh is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Ganesh is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom. He is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies as he's considered the God of beginnings. He's widely and dearly referred to as Ganapati or Vinayaka. 

There are two different versions about Ganesh's birth. One has it that Goddess Parvati created Ganesh out of dirt off her body while having a bath and set him to guard her door while she finishes her bath. Shiva who has gone out, returned at that time, but as Ganesh didn't know of him, stopped him from entering. An angry Shiva severed the head of Ganesh after a combat between the two. Parvati was enraged and Shiva promised Ganesh will live again. The devas who went in search of a head facing north of a dead person could manage only the head of an elephant. Shiva fixed the elephant's head on the child and brought him back to life.

The other legend has it that Ganesh was created by Shiva and Parvati on request of the Devas, to be a vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of rakshasas (demonic beings), and a vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the devas.

The Ganeshotsav festivities end after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi, also known as the day of Ganesh Visarjan. 

On this day, devotees immerse idol of Lord Ganesha in a water body close by. The gala celebration includes new clothes, sweets and dance processions on streets.

Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates Lord Ganesha as the god of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles. It is observed throughout India, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. In Mumbai alone, around 150,000 statues are immersed annually.

Ganesha idols are placed in homes, or publicly in elaborate pandals or temporary stages.

Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha during Madhyahna or mid-day. 

With increasing environmental concerns, many people prefer eco-friendly Ganesha instead of plaster of Paris idols. These days, statues with seeds are also being made. These seeds will get to the soil after the immersion of Ganesha and would help in germinating a plant.

In Goa, Ganesh Chaturthi is known as Chavath in Konkani and Parab or Parva ("auspicious celebration"); it begins on the third day of the lunar month of Bhadrapada. On this day Parvati and Shiva are worshiped by women, who fast. Instruments such as ghumots, crash cymbals (taal in Konkani) and pakhavaj (an Indian barrel-shaped, two-headed drum) are played during the rituals. The harvest festival, Navyachi Pancham, is celebrated the next day; freshly harvested paddy is brought home from the fields (or temples) and a puja is conducted. Communities who ordinarily eat seafood refrain from doing so during the festival.

In Karnataka the Gowri festival precedes Ganesha Chaturthi, and people across the state wish each other well. In Andhra Pradesh, Ganesha Murti's of clay (Matti Vinayakudu) and turmeric (Siddhi Vinayakudu) are usually worshiped at home with plaster of Paris Murti's.

Festival quick facts

The festival begins on Shukla Chaturthi which is the fourth day of the waxing moon period, and ends on the 14th day of the waxing moon period known as Anant Chaturdashi. 

Maharashtra is the state known for grand scale Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. During the festival, colourful pandals (temporary shrines) are setup and the Lord is worshiped for ten days. 

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