Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated zealously every year for ten days. It is celebrated in the month of Bhadra as per the Hindu calendar, which generally falls in the months of mid-August and September.
This day is commemorated by the birth of elephant-headed Lord Ganesha. He is worshiped before any important work because generally he is known as the God of wealth, knowledge, science, wisdom and prosperity.
This festival is celebrated with full joy throughout India but generally in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana. This festival is celebrated with four main rituals throughout the ten days, i.e: Pran Pratishtha, Shhodashopachara, Uttar Puja, and Ganpati Visarjan.
You can see the enthusiasm of Ganesh Chaturthi in people a week before. They start decorating pandals and artisans prepare beautiful idols of Ganesha in a variety of sizes and poses.
Magnificent idols of Ganesha are placed in decorated pandals, temples, localities, and homes. The idols of Ganesha are adorned with bright clothes, garlands, flowers, light, and some jewellery.
Prayers are done in 16 different ways and people celebrate by singing, beating drums, eating langar, dancing and lighting fireworks. Lord Ganesha is also offered some of his favourite foods like Modak, Puran Poli and Karanji.
Over the years, the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi has changed. Ketan Vaidya, a journalist who has lived in Maharashtra said, “In earlier times, people used to celebrate this festival in homes only, but later on it changed into public celebration when SSGS (Shree Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Sanstha) organised the first public Ganpati festival in 1893. Lokmanya Tilak urged the people to celebrate this occasion publicly instead of privately in their homes.”
He also added, “We can see that nowadays there are many varieties in modak like truffle modak, chocolate modak and many more flavours and colours. Over time, environmental awareness has also grown where people started coming up with eco-friendly Ganesha which is made up of biodegradable products or can be grown into plants later on.”
The celebration ends with Ganesh Visarjan, which is goodbye to the lord, wherein the statue is immersed underwater. Idols of Ganesha are brought from home for visarjan as people chant mantras like, “Ganpati bappa moreya, pudhchya varshi laukariya,” which means goodbye lord please come next year.