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Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom, prosperity, and new beginnings. The festival usually falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which usually corresponds to August or September in the Gregorian calendar. Hindus all over India and in different parts of the world celebrate it with great enthusiasm and devotion.
Here are the details of the significance and customs associated with Ganesh Chaturthi:
Lord Ganesha’s creation: According to Hindu mythology, the goddess Parvati made Lord Ganesha out of sandalwood paste. He appointed her to guard his bathroom while he was taking his bath. Parvati’s husband, Lord Shiva, was unaware of Ganesha and tried to enter the territory, resulting in a conflict between them. In the ensuing struggle, Shiva unknowingly beheaded Ganesha. Overcome with grief, Parvati asked Shiva to revive Ganesha. He did so by placing an elephant’s head on Ganesha’s body, giving rise to Lord Ganesha’s unique elephant-headed form.
Significance: Ganesha is widely worshipped as the remover of obstacles, the god of wisdom, knowledge, and beginnings. She is invoked at the beginning of any important undertaking or program to seek her blessings and remove obstacles that hinder progress.
Preparation for the festival:
A few weeks before Ganesh Chaturthi, artisans and devotees start making elaborate clay idols of Lord Ganesha. These statues range from small household versions to huge, publicly displayed ones. People also prepare by cleaning and decorating their homes and buying flowers, sweets, and coconuts for offerings.
Installation of idols: On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, idols are brought home or placed in public pandals (temporary structures) amid singing and dancing. The idol’s installation is a symbolic act of inviting Lord Ganesha into the home or community for blessings.
Puja and Prasad: Throughout the festival, devotees offer prayers, flowers, sweets, fruits, and other offerings to Lord Ganesha. Aarti (ceremonial prayer) is performed, and hymns and devotional songs are sung in his honour.
Procession and immersion: The festival comes to a close with a grand procession in which devotees carry the idols through the streets while music, dance, and other entertainment are present. These processions are especially vibrant in Maharashtra, where the festival has deep cultural significance. On the last day of the festival, which may last one to several days depending on local traditions, the idols are immersed in water bodies such as rivers or seas. This visarjan, known as “Visarjan, ” marks the return of Lord Ganesha to his divine abode when he removes the devotees’ problems and obstacles.
Eco-friendly festival: In recent years, there has been increased awareness of the festival’s environmental impact, especially due to the immersion of idols made of non-biodegradable materials. As a result, there is a growing emphasis on more eco-friendly festivities, which include the use of clay idols and water-soluble dyes for decoration.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a religious, cultural, and social event that brings communities together in celebration and devotion. It reflects the spirit of unity, creativity, and reverence that defines Indian festivals. Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom, prosperity, and new beginnings. The festival usually falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which usually corresponds to August or September in the Gregorian calendar. Hindus all over India and in different parts of the world celebrate it with great enthusiasm and devotion.