Ganesa Chaturthi (A Festival Related To Ganesha) is a popular festival of the Hindus. Ganesa is the youngest son of Lord Shiva and His wife Parvati. The festival is also known as the Vinayaka Chaturthi (Vinayak is the another name of Lord Ganesa) in Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. According to the Hindu calendar, Ganesa Chaturthi is celebrated in the month of Magh (A Time Period Between January and February). The day has another significance. It is the fourth day of the waxing moon period. The festival runs for long ten days, culminating on the Ananta Chaturdasi.
History and mythological details say that Ganapati or Ganesa is the Lord of the Semi Divine Creatures. The mother Parvati created Ganesa out of sandalwood paste she used for her bath. Later she breathed into the figure. As Parvati went to take her bath, Lord Shiva entered the house. Ganesa did not recognize Him and impeded Him from entering the house. Being extremely enraged, Shiva cut down His head. Later, when He realized that He mistakenly punished His own son, he ordered to bring the head of an elephant and place it on Ganesa�s body.
The festival of Ganesa Chaturthi is observed all across the country, especially in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other states, which formerly were the territories under the Maratha Empire.
It was Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak, who first brought the idol of Lord Ganesa to the streets. Balgangadhar Tilak started this auspicious festival to turn people more aware about the freedom movement in India. In Mumbai and Pune neighborhood Ganesas are brought at the immersion site, where thousands of devotees bid Him farewell in an exciting and frenzied style.
The Preparations Of The Great �Ganesa Festival�
The �Kumaras� (The Idol Makers) begin preparing the idol from at least two months prior to the date of �Ganesa Chaturthi�. The idols are placed either on highly raised platforms or the organizers prepare gorgeous and elaborate �pandals� (Tents) to welcome the Lord. The priest, dressed in red attire utters the chants and starts the �puja� (Worshipping The God). The initial ritual is known as �Pranapratishtha� (Breathing Life Into The Deity).
Celebrating �Ganesa Chaturthi�
Before the festival starts, the �Pandals� or the �Mandapas� are richly embellished with the impressions of meaningful �Themes�. The organizers compete with each other, concerning the best party to make the best arrangements. There can be noticed colors all around with the gifts of song, dance, mirth and merriment. In contemporary Mumbai, �Ganesa Chaturthi� has become an economic event. The artists, business organizers, singers and dancers find a platform to execute their talent and earn huge as well.
Celebrations In Pune
People of Pune believe that there are five �Ganapati Of Honor�, who are worshipped by people across the globe. On the first day, a special corner is chosen to place �Ganapati�, and then the God is received with material and verbal offerings. The Lord is given Red garments and a special thread, which is believed to be silver. Bright lights are lit, bells chime and the puja goes on with offerings of red and yellow flowers. On the day of immersion, the devotees yell, asking the Lord to re-visit earth once again in the next year.
The Festive Foods
The main sweet dish during the festival is �Modak�, which is also known as �Modagam�. �Modak� means something, which brings happiness. It is prepared with the mixture of rice flour, wheat flour, coconut, jaggery and other ingredients. The South Indians too indulge in this habit of preparing �Modak� during the festival.
Rituals To Be Maintained During Ganesa Chaturthi
According to Swami Shivananda, one should meditate on the sayings about Lord Ganesa on this day. The ladies should rise early, take their bath and visit the temple to worship the Lord. They should offer Him coconut and, sweets and the Indian pudding. One should pray to Him with absolute devotion, so that he or she could achieve the path of �Moksha� (Freedom From The corporal Bondage) soon. Thus, on the day of �Ganesa Chaturthi�, feel the pervading spirit of Lord Ganesa, and He would be yours with all His Divine Blessings.