Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi
Several of us has enjoyed 10 joyous days of Ganesh Chaturthi at home and in our neighbourhood. Our apprehension about Ganesh Chaturthi is the society pandals, getting together as a colony and having fun time. But this was something that initiated way later than the actual foundation of Ganesh Chaturthi in homes. This festival is celebrated across India but mainly in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Odisha and Chattisgarh.
Lord Ganesh is worshipped as gods of wisdom, intelligence and believed in removing obstacles from auspicious occasions. That is the reason he is worshipped in the beginning of any big auspicious and important events. His vahan is mouse or mooshak. His parents are god Shiva and goddess Parvati. He has an elder brother, bhagwan Kartikeya. Lord Ganesh is offered sacred grass Durva, these were believed to help him in winning a war when nothing else did and his favourite offerings in terms of food is modak. Even modak has story behind being the lord’s favourite offering. Once Lord Ganesh and lord Kartikeya were set off to circle the whole world by their parents. While lord Kartikeya ran to complete the circle, lord Ganesh wisely chose to circle around his parents, stating that his parents were his whole world. Overjoyed with his response, goddess Parvati offered him a modak and rest is history.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the first week of Bhadrapada.(6th month of Hindu calendar) by bringing idols of lord Ganesh on or a day before Ganesh Chaturthi. The first pooja performed is padya pooja by worshipping feets of lord Ganesh followed by pran patishthapan. The idol is installed in well decorated temporary shrine in houses as well as pandals in colonies. There are recitals of atharvashirsha, stotra and upanishads praising and worshipping lord Ganesh. On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, his favourite meals, flowers, fruits, etc are offered as it is marked as his birthday. Aartis are recited usually in morning and evening by friends and families. Families visit each other exchange gifts, sweets and enjoy the arrival of lord Ganesh.
After about a week or so, it comes the time to bid farewell to this lord to his homeland with same energy as his arrival on Anant chaturdashi. Respectfully the idol is immersed in any forms of water with proper rituals and rules also known as visarjan miravnuk.
Why is Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrated?
According to the legends, Ganesh Chaturthi is marked as birth of lord Ganesh. The story tells that once when goddess Parvati was alone but wanted to take a bath, so she created a baby sculpture using Sandalwood and asked him to guard the gates while she bathes. At the same time lord Shiva came to the entrance wanting to visit goddess Parvati but as lord Ganesh refused him to enter the premises, lord Shiva infuriated and their combat resulted in lord Shiva severing the child’s head. After goddess Parvati came to know about this situation, she was devastated. However lord Shiva promised her that the child will be alive soon. Lord Shiva sent devas in search of head to attach but they came back with a elephant head instead of a human head as it was nowhere to be found up north. Eventually lord Shiva fixed the Elephant head on the child bringing it back to life once again and this how we got our beloved lord Ganesha. This day is marked as his birth and celebrated pompously. One of the main events in this festival is the pran pratisthapan. This signifies instituting life in the idol or the temple just the way it was performed in the above given story. The festival is celebrated among families for about one or one and a half day to 5 days(Gauri-Ganpati in Maharashtra) but when it comes to the communal celebration of ganesh chaturthi it is celebrated for 10 days and the last day of it is marked as farewell to lord Ganesh by immersion ceremony on the day of Anant Chaturdashi.
The Communal Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi
Even though the first observed private celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi is unknown but the public celebration of this festival is observed since 1630. But due to the war situations among the empires, this festival was again privately celebrated in families itself. In 1892, it was freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak who dedicated to revive this festival to all citizens of the nation once again. His intention behind organising this large, well managed event was to reduce the gap between brahmins and non-brahmins so as to create a unity among all citizens against the British rulers and discuss political reforms on daily basis. There was a rule made by the British government that any political meetings or events by Indians won’t be allowed but religious meeting were exempted from this rule and he observed that the Friday Mosque prayers were permitted too. This gave him a boost to encourage public celebration of this festival. In his newspaper ‘Kesari‘, he mentioned and praised the first ever sarvajanik Ganesh idol installed in Pune by Bhau Rangari. From that year onwards, Tilak expanded this mass event as a hidden mean of political activities and intellectual discourse by the public to the public itself.
To summarise, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in our culture since many years. It has great significance in our Vedic stories. The atmosphere and joy in the air during this festival is second to none. It is still believed to be one of the way that colonies come together as one and has exchange of thoughts and intellectuals during these 10 days.
Praying lord Ganesha to bless us all with great intellects and good health. Ganpati Bappa Morya!