Ganesh Chaturthi 🙏

 Ganesh Chaturthi 🙏

Ganesh Chaturthi / Ganesh Puja is majorly a national festival, which is marked with the installation of Ganesh clay idols both publicly and privately. The festival celebrates Lord Vinayaka or Ganesh as the God of new beginnings and remover of hurdles. Lord Ganesh is worshipped for prosperity and knowledge.

History of Ganesh Chaturthi 

Ganesh is known by the names Heramba, Ekadanta, Ganapati, Vinayaka and Pillaiyar. Ganesh Chaturthi / Ganesh Puja is one of the widely celebrated Hindu festivals in the country. The blessings of Lord Ganesha are invoked at religious ceremonies. Lord Vinayaka is known as the fortune giver and one who can assist to avoid natural calamities. He is also the patron god of traveling. Lord Vinayaka is portrayed with an elephant's head on a human body. According to Hindu customs, Lord Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

How is Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated ?

In a few parts of India such as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh the festival of Ganesh is celebrated for ten days. It is a public occasion. Sweets are offered. On the day of the festival, clay idols of Vinayaka are installed in homes or outdoor in decorated tents for the public to view and submit their homage. Clay idols of Ganesh are also installed by schools and colleges.

Ganesh Chaturthi/Chavithi is celebrated with great pomp and show in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, and Karnataka. Other states that celebrate this festival are: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Delhi, and Punjab.

What Rituals Are Observed for Vinayaka Chaturthi?

Though the festival is the same and has similar connotations across India, each region has slight variations in rituals and traditions. The celebrations last between 7 and 10 days at different places. A few common observances are:

1. Installation of Ganapati statue: 

A statue of the Elephant God is installed on a pedestal either at home or in a public place with a pranprathishtha puja.

2. Not looking at the moon: 

On the first night of the festival, people avoid looking at the moon because it is considered a bad omen.

3. Prayers:

 Washing of the statue; puja with the chanting of shlokas and offerings of flowers and sweets; and aarti, i.e. circumlocution of the idol with a plate filled with a lit earthern/metal lamp, kumkum and flowers, is done. Prayer meetings are also conducted at Ganapati temples and public installations every day in the evenings and in some places, in the mornings as well.

4. Special performances: 

Some public installations of Lord Ganesh might also have performances with dance, music, and skits.

5. Making and eating modak: 

Modak is believed to be Ganapati's favourite sweet. So, these dumplings are made and distributed as prasad during the festival. Other food items such as laddoo, barfi, pedha, and sundal are also distributed during this time.

6. Visarjan: 

This is the immersion of the idol in a water body and is conducted on the last day - anywhere between the seventh and eleventh days - of the festival. It is accompanied by a procession of people chanting bhajans and shlokas and songs, with the idol. People seek forgiveness for the mistakes they have done so far and request the god to help them stay on the righteous path. Ganesha is thanked for visiting the home/locality, for being removing obstacles from people's path, and for the auspiciousness he bestows.

Why Are Ganesha Statues Immersed in Water on the Last Day of the Festival?

Ganesh Visarjan symbolises the end of the festival as well as the fact that everything on Earth eventually merges with one or more of the elements of nature. It also indicates the birth cycle of Lord Vinayak - he was born from clay and returns to the elements in that form. In literal terms, he is going back to his heavenly abode after staying with his devotees for 7 to 10 days.

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