Type : Hindu
Main God : Ganesha
History of This Festival :
Ganesh Chaturthi , also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi (Vināyaka Chaturthī), is the Hindu festival that reveres god Ganesha. A ten day festival, it starts on the fourth day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in Gregorian months of August or September. The festival is marked with installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stage). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as Ganapati Upanishad, prayers and vrata (fasting). The festival ends on the tenth day after start, wherein the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in nearby water body such as a river or ocean, thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailasha to Parvati and Shiva.
The festival remembers Ganesha’s birthday, and celebrates him as the god of good beginnings, prosperity and obstacle remover. It is observed throughout India, especially as a public event in the western states of India such as Maharashtra and Gujarat, usually as a private home festival in other states such as Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where it overlaps with the Teej festival. At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic and martial arts competitions are held. It is unclear when the festival started, it may have South Indian origins, but historical evidence suggests it became a major social and public event with sponsorship of Shivaji after Muslim-Hindu (Mughal-Maratha) wars, and again in the 19th century after public appeal by Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, who championed it as a means to circumvent the colonial British government ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation in 1892.
Ganesha Chaturthi is also observed in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora elsewhere such as in the Trinidad, Suriname, Fiji, Mauritius, United States and Europe.
Celebrations at Home :
At homes in Maharashtra, families install small clay statues for worship during the festival. The idol is worshiped in the morning and evening with offerings of flowers, durva(strands of young grass), karanji and modaks. The worship ends with the singing of an aarti in honour of Ganesha, other gods and saints. In Maharashtra the Marathi aarti “Sukhakarta Dukhaharta“, composed by the 17th century saint, Samarth Ramdas is sung. Family traditions differ about when to end the celebration. Domestic celebrations end after 1 1⁄2, 3, 5, 7 or 11 days. At that time the idol is ceremoniously brought to a body of water (such as a lake, river or the sea) for immersion. Due to environmental concerns, a number of families now avoid bodies of water and let the clay statue disintegrate in a barrel of water at home. After a few days, the clay is spread in the home garden. In some cities a public, eco-friendly process is used for the immersion. In Maharashtra, Ganeshotsav also incorporates other festivals, namely Hartalika and the Gauri festival, the former is observed with a fast by women on the day before Ganesh Chaturthi whilst the latter by the installation of idols of Gauris.
In Goa, Ganesh Chaturthi is known as Chavath in Konkani and Parab or Parva (“auspicious celebration”) it begins on the third day of the lunar month of Bhadrapada. On this day Parvati and Shiva are worshiped by women, who fast. Instruments such as ghumots, Crash cymbals (टाळ (taal) in Marathi and झान (Zaan) in Konkani) and pakhavaj (an Indian barrel-shaped, two-headed drum) are played during the ceremonies. The harvest festival, Navyachi Pancham, is celebrated the next day; freshly-harvested paddy is brought home from the fields (or temples) and a puja is conducted. Communities who ordinarily eat seafood refrain from doing so during the festival.
In Karnataka the Gowri festival precedes Ganesha Chaturthi, and people across the state wish each other well. In Andhra Pradesh, Ganesha idols of clay (Matti Vinayakudu) and turmeric (Siddhi Vinayakudu) are usually worshiped at home with plaster of Paris idols.
Celebrations In Public :
Public celebrations of the festival are popular, and are organised by local youth groups, neighborhood associations or groups of tradespeople. Funds for the public festival are collected from members of the association arranging the celebration, local residents and businesses. The Ganesha idols and accompanying statues are installed in temporary shelters, known as mandaps or pandals. The festival features cultural activities such as singing, theater and orchestral performances and community activities such as free medical checkups, blood-donation sites and donations to the poor. Ganesh Chaturthi, in addition to its religious aspects, is an important economic activity in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Many artists, industries, and businesses earn a significant amount of their living from the festival, which is a stage for budding artists. Members of other religions also participate in the celebration.
In Tamil Nadu the festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Pillayar Chaturthi, falls on the fourth day after the new moon in the month of Āvaṇi in the Tamil calendar. The idols are usually made of clay or papier-mâché, since plaster of Paris idols have been banned by the state government. Idols are also made of coconuts and other organic products. They are worshiped for several days in pandals, and immersed in the Bay of Bengal the following Sunday. In Kerala the festival is also known as Lamboodhara Piranalu, which falls in the month of Chingam. In Thiruvananthapuram a procession marches from the Pazhavangadi Ganapathi Temple to Shankumugham Beach, with tall statues of Ganesha made from organic items and milk immersed in the sea.
The primary sweet dish during the festival is modak (modak in Marathi and Konkani, modakam or kudumu in Telugu, modaka or kadubu in Kannada, kozhakatta or modakkam in Malayalam and kozhukattai or modagam in Tamil). A modak is a dumpling made from rice or wheat flour, stuffed with grated coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and other condiments and steamed or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada), similar to modak in composition and taste but in a semicircular shape.This sweet meal is called Nevri in Goa and is synonymous with Ganesh festival amongst the Goans and the Konkani diaspora.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana modak, laddu, vundrallu (steamed, coarsely-ground rice-flour balls), panakam (a jaggery-, black pepper- and cardamom-flavored drink), vadapappu (soaked moong lentils) and chalividi (a cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture) are offered to Ganesha. These offerings are known as naivedya, and a plate of modak traditionally holds 21 pieces of the sweet. In Goa, modak and a Goan version of idli (sanna) is popular.