Ganpati Bappa Morya!
There are still a few more hours to go for Ganesh Chaturthi and the President of India has already conveyed his wishes to his citizens. Twitter and Facebook are flooded with Ganesh Chaturthi tweets and posts.
So, what is it about this festival that has spread its fever across the Indian Hindus and does so every year?
Let’s find out…
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi is celebrated in honour of Lord Ganesha, the “elephant headed” on his birthday. Lord Ganesha is known to bring good fortune, wealth and prosperity and every auspicious function is started by evoking his blessings called Shubh Aarambh. This auspicious festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid August-mid September) all across the globe, and the grandest celebrations take place in Maharashtra. The festival is celebrated for 10-12 days, the last day being the Anant Chaturdashi. This year, Anant Chaturdashi will be observed on 27th September.
Also read : Top 10 Iconic Ganpati Pandals in Mumbai
The History behind the festival
The oft-told story that we’ve been hearing from our parents and grandparents dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. In order to guard her bathroom door while she bathed in the absence of Lord Shiva, Parvati created Ganesha from her sandalwood paste. On Shivji’s arrival and Ganesha persistence on not allowing him to go made Lord Shiva enraged who beheaded Lord Ganesha. As per Goddess Parvati’s orders, her followers went in search for a child’s head but all they could find was an elephant head and that’s how Lord Ganesha, the manifestation of an Elephant Headed Lord took birth.
The work for the skilled artisans begins months before the festival arrives. Various artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha in different poses are made, the sizes varying from 3/4th inch to around 70 feet.
Specially erected temporary structures called Mandapas or Pandals are built and the beautiful statues are installed on them in homes, localities and temples, on the first day of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. In order to invoke life of Lord into the idol, the temple priest clad in red silk dhoti performs the rituals of chanting mantras called the “Pranapratishhtha“. After this, prayes are offered to the Lord in 16 different ways called the Shhodashopachara. The statue is smeared with crimson and sandal paste and various offerings of coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva blades of grass and red flowers is made. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
For 10 days, Ganesha is worshipped and on the 11th day, the idols are taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all men. “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” (O father Ganesha, come again early next year) is the phrase chanted by everyone. After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.
The most famous dish of the festival is modak. A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Modak is known by different names in different parts of the country in their languages, as modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka/kadubu in Kannada, kozhakatta/modakkam in Malayalam and kozhukattai/modagam in Tamil Nadu.
Another popular sweet dish is the karanji which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has a semicircular shape.
The festival is celebrated with great splendor throughout the country, but Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival of Maharashtra. Here’s why!
History of Celebrations
The first celebrations of the festivals dates back to the time of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler. The festival continued to be celebrated by the Peshwas, as Lord Ganesha was their local deity, but after the fall of the Peshwa rule, the festival was revived by Bal Gangadhar Tilak also known Lokmanya tilak, the eminent freedom fighter, nationalist and social reformer. The visionary that Tilak was, he noticed that the festival was more common amongst the upper strata of the society and hence decided to bridge the gaps. He realized the national importance of Lord Ganesha and tried to bridge the differences between Brahmins and Non-Brahmins of the country in order to unite all the citizens.
He was the first to put in large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and establish the tradition of their immersion on the tenth day. By making the festival public, he built a platform for all and sundry irrespective of their caste, creed and sex to mingle and unite with each other to form the basis for the freedom struggle.
Apart from India, the festival is also celebrated by the Hindu residents in UK, USA, Malaysia, Canada, Singapore and Mauritius.
WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR?
The festival this year has worn a modern charm with contemporary themes of Ganesha’s idols taking selfies and also in Baahubali-Ganesha forms. In the past Anna Hazare Ganesha and World cup Ganesha have already been famous. Here are a few new forms of Lord Ganesha to add the contemporary charm in the celebrations.
Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya!!!
A third year student of Economics from Miranda House, University of Delhi, Anima wants to have a taste of everything in life. With her interests ranging from the love for singing to the passion for sports like basketball and volleyball, she wants to test her abilities in the maximum spheres of life.