The Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi , also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over the world. But in India specially Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh & other areas which were former states of the “Maratha Empire”. Outside India, it is celebrated in Nepal by the “Newars”.
This festival is very closely connected to India’s freedom struggle. It was freedom fighter “Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak” who made this festival a public celebration in 1893 in order to create unity and awareness about the freedom struggle among the masses. Through the medium of this festival he brought together all the classes of societies against British by getting rid of the caste differences. Since then, it has become a hugely popular public festival. Historical records reveal that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by “Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja”, the great Maratha ruler, to promote culture nationalism & give a feeling of unity. And it had continued ever since. There are also references in history to similar celebrations during “Peshwa” times.
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the major traditional festivals celebrated by the Hindu community. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi. Typically the days falls between late August & mid September.
Mythology says that once Lord Shiv, not knowing that “Ganesh” was his son, killed him out of anger & ignorance. When Parvati insisted that the boy should be given life immediately, Shiv cut off an elephant’s head & fixed it on Ganesha’s shoulder. From that day Ganesha is being worshipped as the god of learning, knowledge. And Vidya fighting against Avidya and ignorance. Ganesh is also worshipped as a destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride. Ganpati has the head of an elephant on which rests an elegant tiara, four podgy hands joined to a sizeable belly with each hand holding its own symbolic object – a “Trishul”, an “Ankush” or goad (made from his very own broken tooth) in another, a lotus in the third and a rosary “ Durva” (which is sometimes replaced by “Modaks”, his favourite sweet) in the fourth. Lord Ganesh is also famous for being trickster & for his profound sense of humour. This story is mentioned in the Rudra Samhita of Shiv Puran.
The celebration lasts for 10 days. During the festival days, the Lord is worshipped with great devotion & prayer services are performed daily. On the last day which is Anant Chaturdashi day, people immerse the idols in a water body, chanting “Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudchya Varshi Laukar Ya.” The procession and immersion is accompanied with dancing and the sound of exciting drum-beats, “Dhol-Taasha”, devotional songs & exploding firecrackers.
However not all people keep the idol for Ten days. Some immerse it the day after Ganesh Chaturthi, while others do on the Third, fifth, seventh & tenth day depending upon family traditions. It is believed that praying to Lord Ganesh leads to fulfilment of wishes & desires. His blessing removes all the obstacles from life.
Tourists from all over the world come to witness this vibrant festival with great energy & enthusiasm. This festival popularly celebrated as cultural event of the country & give out the loud ‘n’ clear message of unity & brotherhood.
Authored by: Prafful Sarda
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