Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival that is celebrated to honor the birth of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom and success. Ganesh Chaturthi is also called as Vinayaka Chaturthi. The festival falls during August or September. Every auspicious occasion is started by evoking Ganesha’s blessings which are known as Shubh Aarambh. Ganesha’s blessings are known for bringing good fortune, health, wealth, and prosperity. This year, the celebration falls on 2nd September, 2019. The festival involves the installation of Ganesha clay idols in homes, pandals, and public spaces. The festival includes the distribution of prasadam such as modak, karanji, and laddoos which are considered as the favorite sweets of Lord Ganesha. On the last day, the idol is carried in a public gathering with music and chanting of prayers for immersion in any river or sea at the nearest distance.
The festival is celebrated in a grand way throughout India and especially in states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Chattisgarh for around 10-12 days. It is a fact that in Mumbai only around 150,000 idols are immersed in a year. After this, the clay is dissolved in the water and it is said that Ganesha returns to Mount Kailash to his parents, Shiva and Parvati.
The Worship of the Lord Ganesha
At home, families install the clay statues of Ganesha and worship the idol every day in the morning and evening for 10 days. The prayer also includes offerings such as modaks, flowers, karanji, fruits, coconut, and durva. Then the family sings an aarti to honor Lord Ganesha and other Gods. They pray for good health, wealth, and happiness of the family.
Publicly also the festival is celebrated and organized by local youths, societies, and associations at a great level. Funds are collected from local residents and neighbors. The statue is installed in temporary pandals. Cultural activities such as singing, dancing, theater, and community activities are organized for community engagement.
Mainly, modaks are offered to Lord Ganesha as they are considered as his favorite delicacy. A modak is a sweet which is made from using wheat flour or rice flour. Its stuffing includes fresh dry-grated coconut, dry fruits, jaggery, etc. The modaks are prepared using steam or by frying them. Modak is also known as modakam in Telugu language, modagam in Tamil Nadu, modaka in kannada, and modakkam in Malayalam.
Another popular dessert that is prepared for this festival is gujia. Gujia is also a deep-fried dumpling prepared with maida or suji. It is stuffed with sweetened khoya, grated- coconut, and dry fruits. They are very popular in India and are prepared in a semi-circular shape.
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History of the Festival
The festival was celebrated for the first time during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler and founder of the Maratha Empire. Again the festival was celebrated by the Peshwas as Lord Ganesha was believed to be their local deity. Around the 19th century also, the festival was celebrated greatly by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, an eminent freedom fighter and social reformer. He knew that the festival was more common amongst the upper-class societies and so he tried to spread it amongst all the classes.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak started the tradition of putting the large idols of Ganesha in public on pavilions and the immersion of Ganesha in public. So by making the festival celebration public, he bridged the gaps and allowed all people irrespective of their caste, race, or gender to participate in the function and unite with all to fulfill the purpose of freedom struggle.
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