Celebrated with pomp and ardour Ganesh Chaturthi/VinayakChaturthi Is one of the most spectacular Hindu festivals, held in the honour of the elephant headed son Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, referred to as Ganesh/Vinayak. He is the patron God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
This festival celebrated on the Shukla Paksha( waxing moon fortnight) of Bhadra (August – September) month, according to Hindu calendar is usually celebrated in the Western part of India (Goa, Telengana, Gujarat, Chatttisgarh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh) with Maharashtra being the center of all festivities. Hordes of people lovingly bring home their Lord Ganesha idols for a period ranging from 1 to 11 days, depending on their ability and resource and on the last day, all the idols are immersed in the sea amidst celebration and revelry.
Hindu Mythology extends the first place of significance to Lord Ganesha and before the worship of any other God can commence, it is imperative to pay one’s obeisance to this Elephant God, as per a blessing he received from his father. He is the ‘Vighna Harta’ (the remover of all obstacles) and ‘Buddhi Pradayaaka’ (the granter of wisdom).
People from all walks of life, from the poorest of the lot to the most affluent join hands to celebrate this with aplomb. Several stories abound in Hindu mythology which speaks about the uniqueness of his birth.
Epics mention that he was created out of mud and made to stand guard while his mother Parvathi was taking shower. Unknowingly Lord Shiva entered the sancto-sanctorium and was accosted by Ganesh, who not recognizing him, refused to grant him entry. The infamous Rudra temper made Lord Shiva so enraged that he severed his head and cast it away. Parvati, when she came to know of it was filled with grief and since it was not possible to put the severed head back, it had to be replaced with the head of another living being, that of an elephant, which was readily available.
Legend also has it that he was created to ward off demons on the behest of other Gods by Lord Shia and Goddess Parvati.
With the commencementof the festival, large heavily ornamented beautiful statues of Lord Ganesha are installed in the multiple pandals in different places. People carry the smaller idols of a more modest nature to their homes to worship and pamper. Lord Ganesh’s favourite offering are ‘Modaks’ and ‘Laddoos’ whichare mass offered and distributed.The festival takes place on a grand scale with people offering sweets, chanting incantation in his honour and playing musical obeisance to the elephant-headed deity. The crowds throng to the Siddhi Vinayak temple to catch a glance of their favourite deity in addition to the 10,000 idols scattered through the length and breadth of Mumbai.
The festival culminates on the 11th day of Anant Chaturdashi, with Mumbai alone witnessing the immersion of around 1,50,000 idols. The statues are paraded to the accompaniment of music and dance and submerged in the sea with an earnest appeal to visit them again next year and bless them with his auspicious presence and beneficent grace.