Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Festival of God Ganesha (Ganesh Chaturthi)

Ganesh Chaturthi (Vinayak Chaturthi) is one of the traditional festivals celebrated by the Hindus in India. Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival and it celebrated in honor of the Ganesha. The festival is also known as "Vinayaka Chaturthi", it comes in the month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi, between August - September month. The festival usually lasts for 10 days and it ending on Anant Chaturdashi.
        The festival involves installing clay model of Ganesha in public pandals, which are worshipped for ten days. These are immersed at the end of the festival in a body of water such as a lake, river or in occean, along with the idol. Some Hindus also install the clay images of God Ganesha in their homes. The festival was celebrated as a public event since the days of Maratha King Shivaji Maharaj [1630 - 1680]. The clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 3-4 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet.
        On the first day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or in decorated tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This process is called ''pranapratishhthapana''. After this the 'shhodashopachara' [16 ways of tribute paying] follows. Coconut, jaggery, "21modakas'' [made with rice], '21durva' [trefoil] red flowers and blads are offered to Lord Ganesha.
        This 10 days festival ending on Ananta Chaturdashi, and is traditionally celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. According to Hindu mythology, God Ganesha is the son of Shiva [The God of Destruction in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator, Preserver, Destroyer] and Parvati [Shiva’s consort]. The cutest Indian God, Ganesha has the head of an elephant on which rests an elegant tiara, four hands joined to a sizable belly with each hand holding its own symbolic object like, Trishul or a Trident in one, an ankush or goad [made from his very own broken tooth] in another, a lotus in the third and a rosary [which sometimes replaced by modaks, his favorite sweet] in the fourth. Revered as the deity of auspiciousness and wisdom, Lord Ganesha is also famous for being a trickster and for his profound sense of humor.

        The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi finds its origin in the Maratha reign, Chatrapati Shivaji starting the festival. The belief lays in the story of the birth of Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha pujan starts from installing a clay idol of Lord Ganesha in your home. Various dishes (bhog) are cooked for offering God Ganesha. The idol is given a bath with pure water and then decorated with flowers. Jyoti is lite and then the aarti begins. Various bhajans, and mantras are chanted at this time. It is believed that chanting the mantras with complete devotion brings life to the idol. It is also believed that during this period, Ganesha visits the home of his devotees and bring prosperity and good fortune with him. For the same reason the day is observed as a very auspicious day.
        Ganesh Chaturthi is mainly celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh with a lot of zeal and splendour, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular festival of Maharashtra. It is mostly celebrated in konkan coastal areas.
         When Lokmanya Tilak was in great distress and worried about our country's freedom. He used to sit at bank of Girgaon chowpaty and wondered how to collect people. While sitting on the bank of seashore he started to create idols and people used to stop by to see it. Such collective movement was not restricted by British. So from there he got an idea to celebrate sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav. He started the tradition of Sarvajanik Ganesha Utsav by making clay idols.
         Till 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were a private affair, not done on a public scale. People used to celebrate it in a traditional manner. It was Lokmanya Tilak who popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival, after visualizing its cultural importance. The reason for this was to enhance the sense of belongingness as well as togetherness among the citizens. It was also done with an aim to build a new grassroots unity between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins. Ganesh Chaturthi was an important festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra. It acquired a more organized form all over India during the Swaraj movement, when Lord Ganesha was chosen as a rallying point for protest against British rule, because of his wide appeal as "the God for Everyman".
         Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first person to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and he was the one who established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day of the festival. Ganesh Chaturthi soon started seeing community participation and involvement, in the form of cultural events. It also served as a meeting point for common people of all castes and communities, at a time when social and political gatherings were forbidden by the British Rule.
         Many People from different types of communities celebrate this ganesh festival with great festivities and zest. Many famous Bollywood celebrities like Salman Khan, Hritik Roshan, Nana Patekar, Nil Nitin Mukesh, Ranbeer Kapoor, and many other celebrities celebrate this festival in their home. Salman khan with all members of the Khan family are participating in the rituals centered around God Ganesha. The elephant-headed God is visiting their home for one and half day. In this Muslim family, a secular atmosphere exists, as Islam, Hindusm and Christianity co-exist here happily, thanks to the efforts of Salma Khan (originally Sushila Charak from maharashtian family), her husband Salim Khan(muslim) and his second wife Helen (Catholic).
         After 10 days of ritual worship, the god returns to his heavenly abode and his clay image is immersed in water. This is called the visarjan (immersion). The farewell procession is marked by the dancers,musicians, acrobats, priests, and many Ganesha idols from a number of houses and temples. All join in the procession to the final destination at the ghats of a river or the ocean in Mumbai, konkan and other coastal areas. Shouts of 'Ganapati bappa Morya, Pudchya varshi lavkarya' (beloved Ganesha, Lord of Morya, come again early next year) you can hear this sound all around.

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