Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most favourite festivals of the Hindu community. It is celebrated all over the country with great devotion and joy. People bring an idol of Lord Ganesha into their homes very happily and perform puja for 10 days with full devotion and faith.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day Hindu festival celebrated to honour the Elephant-headed God, Ganesha. Ganesha is the younger son of Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvati. Although it is not known when or how Ganesh Chaturthi was first observed, the festival has been publicly celebrated in Pune since the era of Shivaji (1630-1680). It was later revived by Lokmanya Tilak which is now celebrated all over India on a large scale.
According to the Hindus, Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and all the problems in one’s life as well as the creator of happiness in the lives of people. People in India worship Lord Ganesha always before starting any new work. Little children call him friend Ganesha, as he cares for and loves them.
According to the Hindu mythology, the elephant-headed deity of prudence, Lord Ganesha is the elder son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is said that Ganesha was actually a creation of Goddess Parvati.
She created him in the absence of Lord Shiva. One day, she asked little Ganesha to keep a watch on the door and not to allow anybody in without her permission. Ganesha obeyed his mother.
At that very time, Lord Shiva came and obeying his mother, he did not allow his father to enter the room. On this act, many other deities tried to remove Ganesha from the door but all efforts went in vain. Therefore, Lord Shiva cut Ganesha’s head with his Trishul.
Just then there appeared Parvati and seeing the condition of her son she got very angry. Then, Lord Shiva ordered the deities to place an Elephant-head on Ganesha’s body and thus Ganesha was brought back to life.
Owing to his elephant head, he is also known as Gajanan. His other names are Ekdant, Arunvarna, and Lambodar.
The full moon day of the month of Vaisakh is sacred to Ganesha and people observe a fast on this day.
During Ganeshotsav, devotees visit pandals and feast on sweets such as modak which is considered the favourite sweet of Lord Ganesha. On the last day of this festival, the idols are immersed in water known as visarjan with the chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya (meaning, Ganpati Bappa come back soon next year).
Another legend has it that Ganesha was created on the request of the demigods to remove the rakshasas (demons) who were hindering them.
Ganeshotsav is celebrated with a great deal of pomp and fervour in Mumbai. The famous pandals like Lalbaugcha Raja at Lalbaug in Parel are believed to fulfill all the wishes and attract millions of visitors. The Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal at King’s Circle is considered as one of the richest manuals and known for their gold idols in the past and the Keshavji Naik Chawl Pandal in Girgaum is one of the oldest pandals in the city which has been visited on several occasions by the late freedom fighter, Lokmanya Tilak.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)