Ganesh Chaturthi Festival also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is a 10-day Hindu Festival celebrated throughout India to honour Lord Ganesh. It is the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is considered as the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Widely and dearly referred to as Ganapati or Vinayaka, Ganesh is known by 108 different names.
As per Shiv Purana, Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesh with the residue of her body while taking bath. The purpose was to guard her while she was taking bath. After creating a beautiful idol of a boy, Parvati infused life in it with her divine powers; this boy was named Ganesh.
One day, while Goddess Parvati was taking bath, Lord Shiva came to meet her. Since he was not aware of the birth of Ganesh, he did not recognize him. Ganesh also refused entry to Lord Shiva. After a long argument, Lord Shiva, out of rage beheaded Ganesh and his headless body fell on the ground. Goddess Parvati got angry at this act and ordered Lord Shiva to bring Ganesh back to life. The only solution was to get the head of a dead human and place it on him. Since no human was found dead at that time, the head of a dying baby elephant was fitted to Ganesh. He was then brought back to life and since then became famous as Gajanana or elephant headed.
Time of the Festival
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on Shukla Chaturthi of the Hindu month of Bhadra (which usually falls between August and September). The duration of the festival varies from 1 day to 11 days, depending on the place and tradition. All days of the festival are full of merriment and marked with rituals, pujas, bhajans and cultural programs.
Maharashtra is the state known for grand scale Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Widely celebrated by Hindus with great fervor, idols of Lord Ganesh are brought home and worshipped for ten days. There are four main rituals during the festival – Prana Pratishhtha - the process of infusing the deity into a murti or idol, Shhodashopachara - 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesh, Uttarpuja - Puja after which the idol could be shifted after it's infusion, Ganpati Visarjan - immersion of the Idol in the river/sea. On the last day of the festival the idols are taken out in a colorful and musical procession and immersed traditionally in water.
The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi is marked by get together of people, as a community festival. Various performances like intellectual speech, poetry recitation, dance, devotional songs, play, musical concerts, folk dances, recite mantras, mangal aarti etc mark the festivity of Ganesh Chaturthi. It plays a very important role in the long list of Maharashtra Fairs and Festivals.
The 10-day festivities conclude with immersion of Lord Ganesha idols, which is carried in a procession to the sea, river, or other large body of water. With a huge cry of Ganpati Bappa Maurya, the idols are ceremonially immersed. This immersion symbolizes the fact that all forms are temporary, having both their origin and final destination in the formless absolute.
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