Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is one of the important Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India with a great devotion. This day is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesh is the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on Shukla Chaturthi of the Hindu month of Bhadra (generally falls between August and September). This festival is celebrated by Hindus with a great enthusiasm. People bring idols of Lord Ganesh to their homes and do worship. The duration of this festival varies from 1 day to 11 days, depending on the place and tradition. On the last day of the festival the idols are taken out in a colorful and musical procession and immersed traditionally in water.
As per Hindu mythology Lord Ganesh is considered as “Vigana Harta” (one who removes obstacles) and “Buddhi Pradaayaka” (one who grants intelligence). This festival is very important for students, they worship Lord Ganesh to illumine their minds.
The festival remembers Ganesha’s birthday, and celebrates him as the god of good beginnings, prosperity and obstacle remover. It is observed throughout India, especially as a public event in the western states of India such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh . Public Preparations for the festival begins months ahead. They are usually funded by local residents, businesses and community organizations.The idol making in Maharashtra usually begins with “Padya pooja” or worshipping the feet of Lord Ganesh. The idols are brought to “pandals” or temporary structures usually 15–20 days before. The pandals have elaborate decoration and lighting.
At home the festival begins with the purchase and then the ceremonial installation of a clay murti (idol). Families decorate a small, clean corner with flowers and other colourful items before installing the idol. When the idol is installed, it and its shrine are decorated with flowers and other materials.
The food offerings to Ganesha include 21 modaka a type of wrapped dessert. This is also the prasada to the community. In preparation for the festival, artisans create clay models of Ganesha for sale. The idols range in size from 3⁄4 inch for homes to over 70 ft for large community celebrations.
The date for the festival is usually decided by the presence of Chaturthi Thithi. The festival is held during “Bhadrapada Madyahanaa Purvabaddha”. If the chaturthi thiti begins at night on previous day and gets over by morning on next day then the next day is observed as vinayaka chaturthi. In the consecration ceremony, a priest performs a Prana Pratishtha to invite Ganesha like a guest.
This is followed by the 16-step Shodashopachara ritual, during which coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva grass and red hibiscus flowers are offered to the idol. Depending on the region of India,during the ceremony, hymns from the Rigveda, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, the Upanishads, and the Ganesha stotra (prayer) from the Narada Purana are chanted.In Maharashtra, Aartis are performed with friends and family, typically in the morning and evening.