Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is one of the important Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India with great devotion and enthusiasm. What is Chaturthi ? Also known as Sankata Hara Chaturthi, it is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This day is observed in every Lunar month of Hindu calendar month on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha (dark lunar phase or the waning phase).
This day is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesh is the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. As per Hindu mythology Lord Ganesh is considered as “Vigana Harta” (one who removes obstacles) and “Buddhi Pradaayaka” (one who grants intelligence). His blessings are invoked at most religious ceremonies as he is the one who can remove all obstacles to success. Ganesha is known by 108 different names and he is considered the giver of fortune and can help to avoid natural calamities. This festival is very important for students too as they worship Lord Ganesh to illuminate their minds.
Though this festival is observed all over India, the festivities, splendour and celebrations in Maharashtra far outdo any other state, especially Mumbai. Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi begin well in advance. People bring home murtis (idols) of Lord Ganesha and celebrate the festival by worshiping the Lord in a special way for a day and a half, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 11 days depending on the family tradition and commitment of each individual. Colourfully decorated idols of Lord Ganesha are installed (sthapna) both at homes and in Sarvajanik Ganesh Pandals. The occasion becomes very lively and enthusiastic with the devotional songs, dances and drum beats being a part of the rituals observed by the devotees of Lord Ganesha, as part of the festivities. The young and old wait for Modak, a sweet dish traditionally prepared using rice or flour stuffed with grated jaggery, coconuts and dry fruits. However, in this day and age, many people also offer the ready sweetmeat in the form of modaks. The plate containing Modak is supposed to be filled with twenty-one pieces of the sweet. On the last day of the festival the idols are taken out in a colorful and musical procession and immersed traditionally in water, mostly beaches.
Pandals across Mumbai are known to thematically represent the current social issues that the city faces through tableaux, paintings and decorations. The Lalbaugcha Raja in central Mumbai is one big attraction, both for local Mumbaiites as well as people from outside Mumbai. Although the idol remains the same each year, crores of devotees flock to this much-hyped pandal to seek boons from the wish-fulfilling deity. Over the years, offerings in gold and silver have increased in direct proportion to high-profile celebrity visits and constant media coverage. Celebrities make their appearances at this and other big pandals, to draw the crowds during the festive season. However in all this religious fervor and enthusiasm, sometimes people tend to take our environment for granted and neglect the necessary precautions to keep our environment clean. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have been appealing Mumbaikars to use eco-friendly Ganesh idols and artificial ponds for immersion to curb pollution. The pollution control board has also directed the mandals to remove flowers, clothes and decorating material before immersion. After much advocating and educating by environmental activists, a wave of green is increasingly making its presence felt this Ganeshotsav. Conciously going eco-friendly in one’s home is one thing, but an entire housing society following the norm is definitely commendable and this is what some housing socities and conscious citizen groups are attempting to do in very recent years. Several sarvajanik mandals have also installed eco-friendly idols made from tissue paper.
The entire city of Mumbai celebrates Ganpati festival, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. This celebration is brought out on the street with great revellery and gaiety, where the spirit of sharing and giving and the strength of the city’s artistic traditions are displayed.
Wishing one and all A Happy and Blessed Ganesh Chaturthi 2017!
Ganpati Bappa Morya!!!
Picture Credits: Where’s My Pandit, Tour My India