Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi and Ganesh Chauth, is a festival dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The day is celebrated as his birthday on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada (August-September), according to the Hindu calendar. The main highlight of the festival is that it lasts for ten days and its ends in Ganesh Visarjan when people bid their goodbye to Ganesha and pray him to come visit them again the next year. This festival is of prime importance for the people living in Maharashtra.
Ganesh Chaturthi nd Vinayaka Chaturthi Festival will be celebrated on 25th August 2017.
It is believed that one should not see the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi as it results in a fault in one’s stars because of which he can be falsely accused of stealing something. Thus according to the astronomical calculations, avoid sighting the moon in between 20:27 to 20:43 on 24th August 2017 and in between 09:10 to 21:20 on 25th August 2017.
There are two legends that are related with the birth of Ganesha. According to the most believed one, Ganesha was created by ParvatiParvati
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was out of the house for most of the times. She created a son for herself out of sandalwood paste. Once she was going to take a bath when she asked Ganesha to guard the door. She asked him not to allow entrance to anyone. When she went inside, Shiva arrived and asked Ganesha to let him in but he denied his request. Shiva became furious, and he asked his followers to teach him some manners. They tried to fight with Ganesha but as he was created by Shakti herself, he was very powerful and defeated the army of Shiva. Other deities also tried but failed to appease him. Finally, Indra tried to teach him a lesson with his huge army but with no results. Finally, Shiva took it as a matter of his pride and severed his head.
When Parvati came out of her arena, she was filled with anger witnessing her beheaded son. Shiva knew Parvati’s anger could result into the end of the universe. Thus, he promised to bring back Ganesha. He asked his troop to find a head of a dead being facing in the North direction, and they could only find a head of an elephant. Shiva fixated the head on the child’s body, thus bringing him back to life. Since then he is being called Ganesha.
According to a less known and talked about a legend, Ganesha was brought to life by both Shiva and Parvati after listening to numerous requests from Gods. They wanted someone who could solve all their problems but at the same time create hurdles in the path of the demons. Thus, he is known as Vighnaharta (obstacle-remover), as well as Vighnakartaa (obstacle creator).
As the festival is celebrated for ten days, those worshippers placing an idol at home should follow the below-mentioned routine. Devotees first clean their bodies and while taking bath ask Ganesha to clean their souls of all the sins. Then offerings of white flowers are made as they are Ganesha’s favorite. A special type of three blade grass call Durva is kept in the worshipping arena. People may also offer vermillion that symbolizes good fortune and incense sticks representing fame. A special type of sweet called Modak is then prepared for the Lord as he loves eating them and can consume them in infinite numbers. Usually, the items like Modak and Durva grass It has many medicinal values and people who perform the rituals associated with the day, are benefitted by its positive effects on skin disorders, high sugar level, obesity, insomnia, fatigue, anemia and digestion. Hence it symbolizes purity of body. One can also purify his house by sprinkling water in all the corners using durva grass. According to some beliefs, the tip of the grass represents Shiva, the middle represents Vishnu and the roots represent Brahma. Thus it as pure as the holy trinity
that are placed next to the Lord are 21 in number. Family members should also meditate on Ganesha’s legends and chant ‘Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha’, 108 times a day.
On the last day, a huge number of processions are taken out on the roads and people sing and dance along the troops. They shower colors and flowers on each other. They finally reach near different water bodies and submerge the idols in them.
Apart from Ganapati Puja and Visarjan that takes place in Maharashtra, celebrations of other southern states are famous too. In Karnataka also people install idols at their home and can continue to worship them even for 21 days. In Telangana, apart from clay, the idols of Ganesha are prepared using turmeric. On the day of submergence, the people stay vigil at night and celebrate the festivity till the sunrise.
In Tamil Nadu, the idols are decorated with special kind of garlands made up of bermuda grass. The people of Tamil Nadu prefer making environmental friendly idols and use coconut shells and other organic items only. They believe that the nature is also a part of the Lord and should not be destroyed in any manner. In Kerala, people offer milk to the idols and break thousands of coconuts on the doorsteps of temples to gain liberation from their sins. In Goa, elaborate Puja ceremonies take place and GauriGauri
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and Shiva are also worshiped along with Ganesha. Displaying fireworks at night is also a part of the ritual. Though, people of Goa widely consume fishes and other sea foods, they refrain themselves from eating non-vegetarian items on Ganesha Chaturthi.
Cultural events organized by various communities attract a lot of tourists who gain firsthand experience of one of the most awaited festival of the year.
The Last Day
The submergence of Ganesha’s idol on the final day symbolizes the transient nature of everything. Nothing in the universe is eternal or permanent. A thing that has gained a form will have to become formless again but even though the clay idol of Ganesha’s dissolves in the water, his presence will always be felt as he is omniscient and omnipresent. His formless spirit will pervade till the endless times and will always help his devotees in the process of self-realization and spiritual enlightenment.
Celebrating the festival and worshipping Ganesha can lead into a happy and prosperous life. He is believed to take away all the sorrows and problems from one’s life and give back health, wealth, success and knowledge in return. He is the symbol of wisdom and good fortune. If people are suffering from the ill effects of the wrong planetary position of Mercury then worshipping Ganesha on this day can yield positive results.