About Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is an auspicious 10-days Hindu festival which is celebrated as a mark of Lord Ganesha’s rebirth day. Lord Ganesha is known by several names like Ganpati, Vinayak and Vighnaharta. Lord Ganesh is the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. He is one of the most important Gods in the Hindu faith. Lord Ganesha is very important as no work is considered to be flourishing without his blessings, which is why, In the tradition of the righthand path importance is given to the first day and in the lefthand path tradition, the final day looks more significant.
This is one of the festivals which Mumbaites celebrate with great zeal and enthusiasm. Devotees clean up their houses and install idols of Lord Ganesha and worship him with flowers and delicious sweets. Local communities compete with each other to put up the biggest and best Ganesha statue and display. Expect very crowded streets, filled with boisterous devotees, and lots of music.
When it is celebrated
Ganesh Chaturthi begins on the fourth day of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.
Where it is celebrated
Ganesh Chaturthi is the biggest gala of the state of Maharashtra, it is also celebrated with great pomp and festivity in the state of Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. This festival is also celebrated in Nepal and Sri Lanka with great enthusiasm.
The origin of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai is traced back to Shivaji, the Maratha ruler. It was he who initiated the festival to instil nationalistic feelings and promote cultural harmony in his subjects. Since 1882, the festival got a fresh breath when Bal Gangadhar Tilak revived it as a perfect platform to spread the message of freedom struggle and thus resisted the British who had banned all public assemblies. People from all communities participated in it and the festival transformed into a religious as well as social function. The festival was often used a medium to deliver motivational speeches and thus arouse people to fight against the British rule.
Lord Ganesha is designated as vighnaharta, the one who averts obstacles. Through the span of Ganesh Chaturthi, devotees pray to Lord Ganesha to rid them of all their obstacles in their personal and professional lives.
In Mumbai, on the first day of the festival, the Pooja starts with the idol being kept over a pedestal that symbolizes a throne. This ritual is called the Pranapratishhtha Puja, during which a number of mantras are recited. Then, he dips the idol in holy water.
Offerings of sweets, flowers, rice, coconut, jaggery, and coins are made to the God. The statue is also anointed with red Chandan powder. Modak, a sweet made of sweetened coconut and rice flour, is also offered to the deity along with incense and flowers.
Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha every day during the festival. Temples devoted to Lord Ganesha also organize special events and prayers.
How it is celebrated
The festival begins with the installation of huge elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha in homes and podiums, which have been specially constructed and beautifully decorated. Artisans put months of effort into making the statues.
Throughout these ten devotional days of Ganesh Chaturthi, Maharashtrians chant ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya, Morya Re and makes this felicitous day look more electrifying by including lively and enthusiastic yet dedicated songs, dances and drum beats which are predominantly the part of processions featuring breathtaking idols of this lord of success.
On the last day Ananta Chaturdasi, the statues are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then immersed in the ocean or other bodies of water.
What to avoid
Devotees and their family member should avoid having garlic and onion after Ganpati Sthapna, during the festival period. Consuming meat and alcohol is also strictly prohibited.
One should not steal or cheat as it will lead to strict punishment from Ganesha.
One must also not fight or use foul language in the presence of the Lord.
It should be noted that Ganesha should never be left home alone or unattended. There should be atleast one family member with him.
During Ganesh Chaturthi, various charitable works are done by the people. Blood donation camps, medical checkup, charity for the poor are done. Various cultural programs and dramatic performances are arranged to celebrate this festival with great success.
Ganesh Chaturthi is an optional holiday. People can take a limited number of restricted holidays but government offices and most businesses remain open during this festival.
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