Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is an Indian festival that marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha, one of the most beloved gods is known by 108 different names in our culture. He is considered to be a symbol of good fortune, wisdom, prosperity and wealth.
Traditions and Rituals
- Weeks before Ganesh Chaturthi, excitement settles in. Various artistic clay models, varying in sizes and poses, are prepared by the artisans.
- These statues are installed in colourfully decorated ‘pandals’ in homes, localities and temples. Garlands and lights add up to the beauty of the statue. A ritual is known as Pranapratishhtha, that involves chanting of mantras by the priest is a common sight seen.
- After this, the prayers are offered in 16 different ways in a ritual called Shhodashopachara.
- Finally, there is a ritual known as Uttarpuja, which means bidding farewell to Lord Ganesha with due reverence. After this ritual, there is a ceremony of immersing the statue in water, which is known as Ganpati Visarjan.
- ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya, a common chanting that evokes the feelings of devotees is commonly heard during celebrations.
Out of all the stories linked to the history of this festival, the most relevant one dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that Parvati is the creator of Ganesha. The story says that Parvati used her sandalwood paste and created Ganesha in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the work of guarding her bathroom door while she was bathing. After Shiva returned home, Ganesha and Shiva got into a tiff due to which Shiva severed the head of the child. Witnessing this site, Parvati enraged and Lord Shiva promised to get Ganesh back to life. The followers searched for a child’s head facing north, but all they could find was an elephant’s head. And that’s how our Gajanana was born.
Significance of Ganesha Chaturthi
- This festival is celebrated with extreme vigour and enthusiasm especially in western India, specifically in Maharashtra. Here the celebration lasts for ten days and the deity of Ganesha is kept for all these ten days even by common people of Maharashtra. Worship of Lord Ganesha was started by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and this was done as a non-community affair.
- Lord Ganesha is an elephant-headed God and is worshipped prior to all Hindu Gods. His name is repeated before starting any work and is believed to be very fortunate and propitious. People even keep the idol or image of Lord Ganesha on their doors to let positive vibrations enter the house. The image of God is imprinted on invitation cards for weddings and the presence of the Lord is solicited on the occasion by worshipping the Lord first.
- Lord Ganesha is considered as the God of power and wisdom. There are various stories associated that show how cleverly and coolly he used to deal with complicated matters. There are several names given to the Lord after all his good doings like Gajanana, Dhoomraketu, Ekdanta, Vakratunda, Siddhi Vinayaka and many more.