Ganesha Chaturthi festival is celebarted all over India and especially in Maharashtra. During this festival, people observe elaborate rituals and worship idols of Lord Ganesha.
Lord Ganesha is an elephant headed God. He is the God of wisdom and prosperity and his birthday is celebrated as Ganesha chaturthi. This festival is also known as vinayaka chaturthi or vinayaka chavithi. This is celebrated in the month of bhadrapad, according to hindi calendar, roughly, mid august to mid september. In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh Ganesha chaturthi is celebrated with immense enthusiasm for ten days. Lord Ganesha is son of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
Origin or birth of Lord Ganesha is an interesting story.Parvati wished to have her own gana (attendant) so, she created a boy out of the sandal paste of her body, and named him Ganesha. Parvati asked him to guard the door and not to allow any one to come inside the palace. After sometime Lord Shiva came and tried to enter the palace but Ganesha stopped him.
A big fight between the two happened. Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head in anger. When Parvati heard this, she decided to destroy the world. Seeing Parvati in such a bad mood all the Gods went to Shiva. They requested him to please Parvati. Shiva decided to bring Ganesha back to life. Shiv send his followers to bring the head of the first animal they see whose mother is facing other direction. His followers brought the head of a baby elephant.
Lord Shiva used his magical powers and put elephant’s head on Ganesha body and bring him back to life. Parvati was still not happy and demanded that Ganesha must be given first place among all Gods. Shiv granted her this boon, hence Lord Ganesha is also known as Lord of Beginning.
Present day celebration of Ganesha chaturthi is the concept of freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak. In order to bridge the gap between brahmins and non brahmins, he made this a community event from a private family celebration.
Rituals of Ganesha chaturthi festival
-Prior to Ganesha chaturthi festival, idols of Ganesha is made by skilled artists.
-A day before Ganesha chaturthi, households are cleaned specially the place where idol has to be placed, in order to attain the sense of purity.
-Ganesha idol is brought with its face covered with a cloth. It is accompanied with chanting and sounds of cymbal.
-In the evening, Ganesha idol is installed at the place of worship, by the priest. This process is known as sthapna. It is believed that now idol has life.
-After installation, traditional puja stats with Ganpati arti and devotional chanting along with sound of cymbal or bells.
-During the puja flowers and modak, which is favourite sweet of Ganpati, is offered to him. After the puja, prasad or sweets are distributed to the devotees.
– Like this Lord Ganesha is worshipped for ten days.
-On the last day of celebration Ganesha idol is taken to some water source in a procession where it is immersed.
There is a myth associated with this festival. If someone looks at the moon on the night of Ganesha chaturthi , then he would be falsely accused. According to the legend, once Ganesha ate lots of sweets and his stomach swell and became huge. He set out at night on his mouse. His mouse saw a snake and was scared. As a result, he tumbled so Ganesha fell down and his stomach burst open. Ganesha caught hold of snake and tied it around his stomach. Moon was watching Lord Ganesha and he started laughing. Ganesha was annoyed with this behaviour of moon. He pulled out his tusk and hurled it against the moon and curse him that no one would look at him, on the day of Ganesha chaturthi. If someone does that then he will earn a bad name. Since then people refrain from looking at moon on Ganesha chaturthi festival.