Ganesha Chaturthi is the birthday of Lord Ganesha that is celebrated like a festival on a very grand scale in Maharashtra. It is a 10-day long festival.
On the day of Ganesha Chaturthi, people bring home a clay idol of Ganesha. The last day, the 11th day is Ganesha Visarjan. The Maratha rulers of the 19th century were very strong believers of Lord Ganesha. Before the Maratha rulership, Ganesha Chaturthi was not very famous. However, it started gaining popularity after the freedom fighter, Lokmanya Tilak declared it as an annual gathering to bring Hindus closer to the cause of independence.
Legends of Ganesha Chaturthi
It is believed that Devi Parvati (the wife of Lord Shiva) was once taking bath in Kailash (the place of residence of Lord Shiva according to mythology). She did not have anybody to guard the door. So, she used the sandalwood and turmeric paste that she was wearing to create Ganesha. Once the idol was made, she blessed it with life and Lord Ganesha came alive. She asked him to guard the door and not allow anyone inside. When Lord Shiva returned home, he demanded entry and Ganesha declined it on the orders of his mother, Devi Parvati. Lord Shiva was unaware that Ganesha was his son and Lord Ganesha was unaware that Lord Shiva was his father. Angered on being denied entry into his own house, Lord Shiva severed the head of Ganesha, instantly killing him. When Devi Parvati came outside, she saw the dead body of her son and collapsed. Overcome with grief, she demanded Shiva to bring her son back to life. Seeing the deteriorating condition of his wife, Shiva sent his army on Earth. The army was supposed to find a child whose mother was sleeping with her back against the sleeping child. Every human mother on Earth was facing her children. However, there was one elephant mother that was sleeping with her back against her child. So, Shiva’s army bought the head of the baby elephant and that head was used to bring Ganesha back to life. Hence, Lord Ganesha got one of his 108 names – Gajanan, Gaj meaning elephant.
Ganesha Chaturthi Celebration
The celebrations start days before the actual festival. People start cleaning their houses to bring Bappa (another name of Lord Ganesha) home. On the day of Chaturthi, people purchase clay idols of Ganesha and bring them home while covering the face of the idol with a yellow-colored cloth. A Pandit (priest) performs the ceremony of Pran Pratishta (a ritual similar to what Devi Parvati had performed to bring the idol of Ganesha to life). Following the ceremony, the Ganesha’s idol is offered a bhog (treat of his favorite dishes) that includes exactly 21 modaks. The idol is then decorated with colorful clothes, flower garlands, and a forehead tilak of sandalwood and turmeric. The minimum time to keep Bappa at home is 1.5 days. People also submerge the idol on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, or 11th day after the Sthapna. The idol is worshipped every morning and evening and songs and hymns are recited in the praise of Lord Ganesha. The official submersion ceremony of Ganesha, that’s the 11th day after Chaturthi, is known as Ganesha Visarjan. People carry the idols from their homes to submerge them in the sea or nearby rivers.
Significance of Ganesha Chaturthi
Also known as Vighnahartha (someone who can remove every obstacle), people believe that Ganesha takes away all the problems with himself and blesses his devotees with success, health, and wealth.
Ganesha Chaturthi 2021 Date(s)
10th September 2021