Ganesh Chaturthi - an interesting Hindu festival common across India

Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi (Vināyaka Chaturthī) is a popular the Hindu festival  celebrated across India. This ten-day festival is widely celebrated in Mumbai and other parts of Maharastra. Gujarat and Chattisgarh are no exception. In Tamil Nadu, every village has a small temple dedicated to Ganesha under a Banyan tree and it is quite natural, it is observed in the nook and corner of this state.  The festival is dedicated to lord Vinayaga, son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The festival starts on the fourth day of Hindu lunar-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, (in Gregorian months of August or September). The festival involves installation of Ganesha clay idols  both privately in homes and  publicly. With permission from the local authorities, a panda (shed) of normal size is erected in a secluded place in public.. The festival is marked by  chanting of Vedic hymns related to  Ganapati, prayers and vratham (fasting). Prasada to the devotees after puja  is distributed from the pandal to the community. It consists of  sweets such as modaka (Kozhakattai : a sweet dish prepared using rice or flour stuffed with grated jaggery, coconuts is widely offered in Tamil Nadu). It is believed to be a favourite of the elephant-headed deity. The festival will be over on the tenth day  and on this day  the idol is taken in a public procession accompanied by music, chanting of mantras, etc to the near-by water-body such as tanks, rivers and sea where the idol is immersed and the clay idol gets disintegrated and settled to the bottom. The belief has been that Lord Ganesa will be returned to Mount Kailasa to join Parvati and Shiva.

Vinayaka Chaturthi, festival.
The festival is an invocation of  Vinayaga/Ganesa  as he  always heralds a victorious  beginning  and removes the obstacles on the way whenever we undertake an endeavour - building of house, new business, wedding, etc. Devout people do Ganapathy Homam before resuming any undertaking so that they won't face any hardship and obstacle in the middle and successfully complete their undertaking. . When we invoke lord Ganesa, he will see to it that we accomplish our task with desired results. The festival  is observed throughout India, especially as a public event in the western states of India such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chattisgarh, and usually as a private home festival in other states such Goa, Karnataka,Tamil Nadu, etc. However, display of Vinayaga idol in public and public procession of Vinayaga idols has become popular in many states.  The origin of this festival is a debatable one. It may be of South Indian origin. The  consensus has been that  it became a major social and public event patronized by Shivaji after Muslim-Hindu (Mogul-Maratha) wars, and  in the 19th century Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, made it popular  as a ruse to circumvent and hoodwink  the colonial British government's  ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation in 1892.

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Ganesha Chaturthi is also observed in Nepal and in many countries  where a large Hindu community lives. England, USA, Canada, Sri Lanka,Trinidad, Suriname, Fiji, Mauritius, etc.


01. Four main rituals are conducted during the festival - Pranapratishhtha - the process of infusing the deity into a murti or idol, Shhodashopachara - 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha, Uttarpuja - Puja after which the idol could be shifted after it's infusion, Ganpati Visarjan - immersion of the Idol in the river.

02. Since the time of Maratha King Shivaji, it has become a public event.  A Sarvajanik (Public) Ganesh idol was installed first by Bhausaheb Laxman Javale.

 03. With a view to bringing unity between Brahmins and non-Brahmins,  Lokmanya Tilak changed the festival from a private celebration to a grand public event.