The Ganesh festival is on in full swing and we can witness happy faces, positive vibes and festive fervour spread across the city. People are going gaga for their beloved lord and cheering ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya!’
Ganesh Chaturthi, the most celebrated festival of Maharashtra, is known for its enthralling spirit among the people, especially of Mumbai and Pune. The festival is also celebrated throughout India with fervor and grandeur.
This spectacular festival honours the birth of Lord Ganesha and is worshipped to remove all obstacles and bring good fortune.
The festival takes place late August or early September, depending on the cycle of the moon. It falls on the fourth day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. In 2019, Ganesh Chaturthi comes on Monday, September 2. The festival extends over 11 days with the biggest spectacle happening on the last day called Anant Chaturdasi day, which falls on September 12, 2019.
Irrespective of caste and creed, people come out in huge numbers to celebrate with great enthusiasm. Idols of Lord Ganesha are installed at homes or pandals for 11 days and on the last day it is taken out to the sea or other water bodies to immerse.
It is believed that the festival has been publicly celebrated in Pune since the era of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and when the colonialists took over India, the festival became a private family celebration in Maharashtra. Later, it was the freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, who bridged the people of different classes and castes together to unite them against the British rule.
In Kerala, the Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated on Shukla Paksha Chaturthi in Chinga masam, while it falls in Bhadrapada month in other states.
1) Lord Ganesha is also worshipped in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Nepal, and China.
2) To mark the festival, clay models of God are brought home by the devotees and worshipped for 10 days. Women make modaks, Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet, to offer him during prayers. The same procedure is followed for 10 days. On the 11th day, the idol is taken on a procession through the streets of the city and is then immersed in water near a sea coast or a riverbank.
3) During the immersion of the idol, people shout in chorus, ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudchya Varshi Laukariya’ which means devotees urge God to come back early next year.
4)Apart from Mumbai and Pune, one place which flourished and mastered the art of making Ganesha idols in Maharashtra’s Pen district. Close to 500 workshops and over 800 artisans makeover 7 lakh idols every year, which also get exported to the UK and US.
5) It is considered unlucky to look at the Moon during Ganesha Chaturthi. According to Hindu mythology, once while returning from a feast, Ganesha riding atop his mouse was accosted by a snake. On seeing the snake, the petrified mouse dropped Lord Ganesha on the ground. Because of the impact of the fall, the belly of Lord Ganesha burst open and the food he had at the feast spilt out. Ganesha gathered all the fallen laddoos and modaks and stuffed them back in his belly, using the snake to hold his belly together. Chandra (Moon) who was watching everything burst out laughing. This enraged Ganesha and he broke his tooth and hurled it at the Moon, cursing him to never be able to shine again. Later, the Moon sought forgiveness and the curse was undone. But the myth about looking at the moon as a bad luck omen still prevails.
6) The longest immersion procession is that of Mumbai’s Lalbaugcha Raja. The ‘Aarti’ is done twice a day.
7) It is believed that Lord Ganesha himself descends on Earth to bless his devotees on this day and anyone who worships him during this time is certain to find success in whatever he endeavours.
8) People start preparation of the puja a month or week before the exact date of the festival. During this festive season, the market becomes in a full swing. Everywhere shops are decorated with the attractive idols of Ganesha and electric lightings in order to increase sales of the idol to the public.
9) Apart from Modaks, traditional dishes offered to the Lord includes Sheera, Puranpoli, Motichoor Laddoo, Sabudana Vada, Rawa Pongal, Payasam, and Kothimbir Vadi.