Ganesh Chaturthi also termed as Vinayak Chaturthi marks the birth of Lord Ganesha, the lord of wisdom, knowledge, prosperity and good fortune. This festival is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm across the country especially in the state of Maharashtra. Lord Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies as he is considered the Lord of Beginnings. He is widely and dearly referred as Vinayaka or Ganpati.
There are two different stories regarding the birth of Lord Ganesha. One popular belief states that Lord Parvati created Ganesha out of the dirt of her body to guard her while she takes bath. Lord Shiva, the husband of Goddess Parvati came to see her and Ganesha unaware of his father stopped him from going inside and a war started between the two. The enraged Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head and the bewailing Parvati took Goddess Kali form to end the world. To console the furious Parvati Shiva promised to make Ganesha alive and ordered devas to search for a person’s head facing north and thus an elephant’s head was put on Ganesha’s body. The other belief states that Ganesha was created by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati as their son to be a Vighankarta(obstacle-creator) in the path of demons and a Vighanharta(obstacle remover) to protect the Devas (Angels).
This year Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated on September 2 throughout the nation. This festival lasts for a span of fourteen days and begins with Shakula Chaturthi the fourth day of the waxing moon phase and ends on the fourteenth day known as the Anant Chaturdashi. The state of Maharashtra is known for grand-scale Ganpati celebrations. The Pandals( temporary shrines) are setup and the lord is worshipped by the devotees for ten days. There are four rituals which are to be performed. The first being the Praanpratishtha – the process of infusing the deity into a murti or idol. The second stage is of Shhdashopochara which describes the sixteen different ways to worship lord, this ritual is followed by Uttarpuja by which idol can be shifted after its infusion and the last stage is of saying goodbye to Ganpati Bappa by doing Ganpati Visarjan in the river.
Every festival is associated with a mouth-watering sweet. Foodies can relish the “modak” a sweet dish prepared with rice or flour and stuffed with grated jaggery, coconut and dry fruits. The plate served to lord is supposed to have twenty-one modaks. Historically also Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated. The great Maratha king Shivaji used to organise a public event and later Lokmanya Tilak used the festival as a tool to bridge the gap between Brahmins and Non-Brahmins.
Apart from India countries like Cambodia, Afghanistan, Nepal, China, Indonesia and Thailand also worship Lord Ganesha