Ganesh Chaturthi, also called Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a popular Hindu festival, celebrated throughout the country, especially in the state of Maharashtra. This ten day festival begins on the fourth day (Shukla Chaturthi) and ends on the fourteenth day (Anant Chaturdashi) of the phase of waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada, which usually falls in the month of August- September. The festival signifies the celebration of the birth of the elephant headed God Ganesha, who is regarded as the god of fortune, prosperity and harmony.
Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi:
It is believed that the brave, warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji, who was the founder of the Marathi Empire, started the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Lord Ganesha was the family god of the Peshwas and hence they promoted the celebration of the festival and worship of Lord Ganesha in their state capital Pune. But, with the decline of the Peshwas, the support and encouragement lessened and gradually the celebrations became confined to homes. However, the great freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak revitalized it again and made it a festival of the state. During the national movement for India’s freedom from the British, he used it as a powerful instrument to make people aware of the necessity of freedom. Accordingly, Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated in Maharashtra with more enthusiasm and vigour.
Lord Ganesha is generally regarded as the God of fortune and prosperity, and people used to print Lord Ganesha’s images on the invitation cards for wedding ceremonies. People believe that by placing Ganesha’s idols at the entrance of houses produce positive vibrations in the house and bring fortune to the occupants.
The importance of Ganesh Chaturthi is in worshipping a deity who has an elephant head. The elephant head signifies great wisdom attained by independent thinking (manana). This “manana” is possible by “shravana” or absorbing spiritual knowledge, which is represented by the big ears of Lord Ganesha. The powerful trunk of the deity portrays wisdom and signifies complete intelligence. Mouse is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha, which symbolizes crushing of the ego. The food offered at the deity’s feet signifies power and prosperity. The materials in the deity’s hand also have their own significance: the rope represents spiritual knowledge, axe symbolizes eradication of desire, modak stands for happiness and the lotus for self-realization.
Importance of Ganesh Chaturthi:
Ganesh Chaturthi, is an event of great religious importance and is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and splendor throughout the country. All houses are cleaned and decorated proclaiming the arrival of the festival. Artisans prepare amazing clay idols long before the commencement of the festival.
Several rituals are performed as a part of the festival, which include chanting of mantras and slokas, singing of devotional songs, and performing arti, etc. Arti is a ritual to worship God, in which the priest circulates an earthen lamp around the deity with immense devotion and respect. Among the festival delicacies, Modak and Karanji are the popular ones. Modak is prepared out of steamed rice stuffed with jaggery, dry coconut and dry fruits. Many other delicious items are served, including laddoo, Badam barfi, Paayasam, Pedha, tamarind rice, Sabudana, etc. There are varieties of entertainment including songs, dances, bursting of crackers, stage performances, etc. In the final day of the celebration, idols of Lord Ganesha are immersed in rivers or lakes.
Ganesh Chaturthi is of great significance and is celebrated throughout the country for fortune and prosperity. The devotees worship the god to seek his blessings to attain spiritual wisdom, prosperity and success in all their accomplishments.