Ganesha Chaturthi marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha and is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated all across the country with great fervor and passion, especially in Maharashtra. The day is observed on the Shukla Paksha Chaturthi (4th Waxing Moon) in the lunar month of Bhadrapada (Aug – Sep). Also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and Vinayak Chavithi, the day is considered to extremely auspicious to appease Lord Ganesha and receive his blessings.
Legend of Ganesha Chaturthi
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of the turmeric powder smeared on her body before her bath. She made a boy out of it and breathed life into him and asked him to safeguard while she took bath. During this time, Lord Shiva, her consort came to visit her. The young lad, unknowing of the fact that Lord Shiva is Mother’s consort, restricted entry to Shiva.
Infuriated Shiva fought with the boy and beheaded him. When Goddess arrived, she was extremely upset to see her son dead and headless. In order to pacify his wife, Shiva ordered one of his Ganas (army) to bring the head of a person who is sleeping facing his head towards north. An elephant’s head was cut and brought by the Gana, which was placed on Ganesha’s body and brought the boy to life.
Goddess Parvati was elated to see her son back into life. This resurrection of Ganesha with an elephant’s head is celebrated as Ganesha Chaturthi. On the same day, Lord Shiva assigned him as the leader of his Ganas (hence the name ‘Ganapati’) and blessed him as the bestower of good fortune, wisdom and prosperity.
Ganesha Chaturthi Celebration
Celebrations of Ganesha Chaturthi last for ten days from Shukla Chaturthi to Ananda Chaturdashi in the month of Bhadrapada (Aug – Sep). On the first day, clay idols of Ganesha are installed in homes and decorated with Arka flowers and sandalwood paste. Various dishes are prepared and offered to Ganesha.
Lamps are lit and hymns and bhajans in praise of Lord Ganesha are sung during the Pooja. Large idols of Ganesha are installed publicly on pandals (stalls), when special Poojas are offered to Ganesha for the entire ten days. It is believed that chanting the mantras for Lord Ganesha with pure heart and devotion will bring life to the idol and receive his blessings of prosperity and good fortune.
On the final day of celebration, the idols are taken as public procession with music and dance and the idols are finally immersed in the water body such as river or sea. With this people adieu for Lord Ganesha, who is believed to reach his heavenly abode – Kailasha.
Special Dishes on Ganesha Chaturthi
Devotees of Ganesha celebrate the occasion by offering a variety of sweets and dishes to the Lord on his birthday. ‘Modak’ or dumpling is Ganesha’s favorite and is a must dish to be offered to the Lord. Other sweets include milk sweets, laddu (sweet balls) and kheer (pudding).