Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the pious and joyous festive celebrations in India. Devotees of Lord Ganesha throughout India unite to commemorate the occasion with divinity and purity. On this auspicious day, they usher in the Lord of success and wisdom. Many states in India especially the western and central parts are closed to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi; a declared public holiday.
The Hindu Mythology
Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. His head represents that of an elephant. There is a myth behind the unusual image of the Lord. Goddess Parvati once had prepared an idol of Ganesha and instilled life into it through her power. She called him as her son and asked her to stand guard outside her home at Mount Kailash. Her instructions were not to allow anyone to enter as she will be in her bath.
Ganesha stood guard cautiously and prevented anyone to enter inside. Lord Shiva came in and ventured to go inside but was prevented by Ganesha. A fight started wherein out of rage Lord Shiva cut the head of Ganesha. An outraged Goddess Parvati threatened to destroy the world. To calm her down, Lord Shiva instructed to replace the head of Ganesha by the head of the first living being. Eventually after certain spur of incidents, his head was replaced by the head of Airavata. Airavata is believed to be the elephant deity of Lord Indra, the king of heaven.
The Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations
Ganesh Chaturthi is observed for 10 days with pilgrims visiting temples and many worship at their residences. The temples are decorated with flowers, lights, diyas, rangolis (patterns made of flowers or colours on the floor). Idols of Lord Ganesha are carved and adorned with traditional colourful attire, jewellery and coloured clays. At the end of the 10th day, large processions are formed with devotees and pilgrims for the immersion of the Lord in the river or sea waters.
Different states of India celebrate the occasion in their own customary methods and traditions. The city of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra is phenomenal in hosting the largest celebrations. Almost 150,000 idols of the Lord are created for the festival. The whole city enlivens with the festive spirits. People of all ages and generations join in the celebrations. It is celebrated annually and hence people engulf into its religious divinity to the fullest. They deck up with new clothes and ornamental jewellery.
Temporary structures called pandals or mandaps are created to install the idols for 10 days of the festival. Funds are collected to construct the structures. Talented and skillfully artists and craftsmen create replicas of Hindu temples, historical buildings or monuments as replicas for the structures. The pandals are decorated with flowers, brightly illuminated lights, chimes and other colourful items.
The key attraction of Ganesh Chaturthi is Modak. It is a sweet dish made with rice or wheat flour and stuffed with grated coconut. The grated coconut is mixed with jaggery and other dry fruits to enhance the taste and flavour. Some prepare fried Modaks whereas some prefer it to be steamed.
A sweet dish called Karanji is prepared in many states on the 10 days of Ganesh Chaturthi. The preparation is similar to Modak, yet the shape is bit different. Modak is popular in the western part of India and Karanji in the southern part of India. The people of Goa call it as Nevri.
The other traditional dishes prepared in different states of India are Vundrallu, Laddu, Chalividi, Panakam, Vadapappu and Panchakajjaya.
Various cultural events are organized throughout the country. Folk songs and dances are performed by the local artists to entertain the people assembling to celebrate the festival. Live theatres are organized and performed by renowned groups. Several social groups arrange for blood donation camps, events to distribute new clothes and food to the needy and several competitive sports or arts events.
India is a country embellished with different types of festivals celebrated all the year-round. Ganesh Chaturthi initiates the start of the yearly festivals. That was the boon blessed by Lord Shiva on his son Ganesha. Hindus in India and even abroad respect the sayings of Lord Shiva and offer their pujas to Lord Ganesha before even starting worshipping any of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It is the tradition and custom followed by all and respected by the Hindu community.
Due to the pandemic and COVID 19 situation, the celebrations have been quite subdued much to the disappointment of many. People are seeking the blessings of the Lord at their homes to wash off the sins from the Earth. All over India devotees are praying to heal the World fast. Let us also pray to the Lord to spread his power and blessings overall and steer us out from the difficult situation we are in.
Ganapati Bappa Morya
Mangal Murti Morya
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.