Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals celebrated all over India. The festival marks the re-birth of Lord Ganesha. Other than India, many other countries like Nepal, China, United States, Mauritius, etc., also observe the customs and traditions of Ganesh Chaturthi. Compared to other states in India, Maharashtra celebrates it in a most magnificent manner with full of festivities including songs, art forms, dances, bursting of crackers, and many other entertainments. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Goa also celebrate this festival with high enthusiasm and spirit, observing various customs and traditions.
The Traditions and Customs of Ganesh Chaturthi:
1) Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day festival, which begins on the fourth day (Shukla Chaturthi) and ends on the fourteenth day (Anant Chaturdashi) of the phase of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada. Preparations begin months before the festival. Cities are illuminated with lighting arrangements, artists construct fascinating pandals and expert artisans make amazing clay idols of Lord Ganesha.
2) In the morning of the first day of the festival, devotees purify themselves by taking a holy bath and wearing new clothes before beginning the worship of the deity.
3) The idol is positioned on a pedestal and is decorated with sandalwood paste and flower garlands. A pot (Kalasha) containing full of rice or holy water, also called as “Purna kumbha” is kept at the foot of the deity. Then Pranaprathisthha is performed, in which the priest chants prayers to invoke life into the clay idol. Chanting of mantras and shlokas from scriptures are followed.
4) Then the ritual of Shodashopachara is performed, which is a method of worshipping Lord Ganesha in sixteen ways.
5) Arti is performed to conclude the ritual, amidst chanting of shlokas, mantras and 108 names of the lord Ganesha.
6) Some of the common festival foods are Modak, laddoo, Pedha, Sabudana, Badam Karanji, Patholi and Puran Poli. Modak is the favorite dish of this festival, which is prepared using rice flour stuffed with jaggery, dry coconut, and dry fruits.
Due to diverse cultures, there may be slight variations in the customs and rituals observed in various parts of the country; however the essential principle remains the same everywhere.