Children Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most important Hindu festival in Bharat. It is the day on which Lord Ganesh, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati was born. This day is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi in many parts of the country. It is celebrated on of fourth day of the waxing moon period in the month of Bhaadrapada according to the Hindu calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, this day falls between August 20 and September 15 .
Ganesh Chaturthi is said to have been celebrated since the days of Maratha rulers: Satavahanas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas. Mainly celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for ten days with a lot of zeal and splendour, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular festival of Maharashtra. Ganesh Chaturthi was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji as a public event to promote traditions and nationalism. This festival was even celebrated by Peshwas to worship Ganapati as their family deity. The festivities remained a family affair until the festival was revitalised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the late 19th century, to take the message of Freedom Struggle to all Bharatwasis. This festival brought a feeling of unity and togetherness in Bharatwasis that helped in revival of their patriotic spirit. Through the medium of this festival he brought together all the classes of societies against British by getting rid of the caste differences. At that time social and political gatherings were not allowed by the British. Tilak chose this festival because Lord Ganesh was considered to be the ‘God of Ganas (people)’. It then served as a platform for people of all community and religion.
Story behind Ganesh Chaturthi
Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of resolution, was away from Kailash . As Parvati was alone at home, she felt the necessity of someone to guard the door of her house while she took bath. When she did not get any one, she conceived of the idea of creating a son who could guard her. She then created an idol out of her sandalwood paste and breathed life into it. She then asked him to stand on the gate and not let anybody enter until she came out. Unfortunately, Lord Shiva returned home in the meantime. As, the boy did not recognise him, he stopped the Lord from entering as per his mother’s instructions. This badly enraged Lord Shiva, who cut off the boy’s head with his trident. When Parvati saw her beheaded son, she took the form of Goddess Kali and threatened to destroy all the three worlds.
Ganesh Chaturthi preparations commence from almost a month before the festival. The celebrations last for around ten days (from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to Ananta Chaturdashi). On the first day a clay idol of Lord Ganesh is installed in homes. Homes are decorated with flowers. Temples witness the visit of large number of devotees. Poojas are performed and bhajans are sung. Localities organise and arrange pandals and install large idols of Lord Ganesh to celebrate the festival with friends and family. On the final day of the celebrations, the idol of Lord Ganesh is taken on the streets. People exhibit their enthusiasm and joy in the form of dancing and singing on the streets along with the idol. The idol is finally immersed in the river or sea. The day witnesses a large number of devotees expressing their happiness and offering their prayers.
Although there are a large number of sweets offered to Lord Ganesh during the pujan, but modak is known to be the Lord`s favourite sweet and is therefore one of the main dishes made on this day. People always want more of this festival and request the Lord to return soon. While taking the idol for immersion they keep singing Ganapati Bappa Morya, agle baras tu laukere aa. —Aniket Raja