Vinayaka Chaturthi Celebrations in the Country•
Posted on May 31 2022
Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesha Chaturthi is a popular Hindu festival celebrated over a period of 10 days across India, especially Mumbai and the other western parts of the country. The celebration takes place between August and September and begins on the Shukla chaturthi or fourth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. The lord is associated with good fortune, prosperity and wisdom. He is also believed to be the remover of obstacles.
The Vinayaka Chaturthi festival marks the birth of the elephant-headed God Ganesha, a favourite deity among Hindus. The occasion also heralds the arrival of the lord’s arrival from Kailash Parvat to earth along with His mother Maa Parvati.
The earliest known origin of this festival in India dates back to the times of Shivaji, the great Maratha emperor when the occasion was celebrated with pomp and gaiety. However, with the advent of the British Raj, the festival lost its popularity because the British condemned the celebrations. It was soon revived to its original form by the great Indian social reformer and freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. However, according to some records, the festival was celebrated for the first time during the reigns of the Satavahana, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties between 271 BC and 1190 AD.
On this day, colourful clay idols of Ganesha of different sizes are kept in houses and temples. The idols can also be found on roads on grandly decorated temporary or makeshift stages called pandals and under bodhi or fig trees. At the end of the 10th day, on Anant Chaturdashi day, these idols are carried in a procession amidst drumbeats, singing and dancing and immersed in a nearby waterbody. This immersion act is called Ganpati Visarjan and represents the return of God Ganesha to His heavenly abode, Mount Kailash.
During the ten-day period and especially on Vinayaka Chaturthi day, elaborate rituals and worships are done in dedication to the deity. These start with the pranapratishtha ritual that involves bringing life to the idol. After this, the shhodashopachara ritual is performed featuring 16 different ways of paying one’s respects to Ganesha. This includes bathing the idols with clean water and smearing red sandalwood paste on them followed by decorating them with red or yellow flowers.
Devotees also chant several Ganesha mantras and recite Vedic hymns from sacred texts such as the Ganesh Upanishad. The worship ends with an arti in honour of the lord.
The lord is said to be a food lover and is especially fond of modaks and other sweets. Therefore, special offerings known as bhog comprising 21 modaks and ladoos along with coconut and jaggery are offered as prasad to Ganesha on this day. The modaks are made of rice flour along with poppy seeds, coconut, cardamom, jaggery and cashews.
As per legends, Lord Ganesha was created by Maa Parvati from clay in human form. Once she was done with the creation, she breathed life into the idol and asked the boy to stand guard at the entrance to the palace while she had her bath and to not let anyone in. Lord Shiva was away at that time and when he returned, Ganesha refused Him admission. This angered Shiva who was not allowed to enter His own abode and He immediately chopped the lad’s head.
Parvati came just in time to see the chopped head. Her grief and anger no bounds and she immediately took the form of Goddess Kali and threatened Shiva that the whole world would be destroyed by Her. In order to calm her, Shiva immediately sent His followers to bring Him the head of the first living creature they saw. This happened to be an elephant with one tusk. The followers immediately beheaded the elephant and took the head to Lord Shiva.
The lord immediately placed the head over the torso of the boy and brought him to life again. This calmed Goddess Parvati and Shiva made Ganapati the head of His followers. All the Gods, in turn, showered their blessings on Ganesha.
One interesting and unique tradition observed on Ganesha Chaturthi is that no one dares to sight the moon on this day. There is an interesting tale about why this so. Lord Ganesha was once on His way back to His abode at night from a devotee’s house. He was very pleased with His follower’s devotion that He ate all the sweets offered to Him. As He was on His way back, He accidentally stumbled on something and fell down.
The moon was quite amused and found the whole episode quite funny. He started laughing loudly and started making comments about the lord’s pot belly. This angered Ganesha and He decided to punish the moon to make him humble and polite. He cursed the moon saying that no one would ever look up at it from that day. Anyone who did so would have to face repercussions of being dishonoured by society and falsely accused of stealing.
This curse upset the moon and its arrogance rudeness and arrogance disappeared in no time. The moon pleaded with the lord and asked Him for forgiveness. After a lot of pleadings, Ganesha calmed down and withdrew the curse partly with one condition. The curse would still take effect but only on the day of Ganesha Chaturthi. It is said that Lord Krishna once sighted the moon accidentally on Vinayaka Chaturthi and was falsely of stealing the precious Syamantaka gem.
Over the years, Vinayaka Chaturti celebrations have become popular outside the country as well. Hindus living in various parts of the world also engage themselves in celebrating this festival.
Written by - Deepthi K