Ganpati Bappa Morya!
There are still a few more hours to go for Ganesh Chaturthi and the President of India has already conveyed his wishes to his citizens. Twitter and Facebook are flooded with Ganesh Chaturthi tweets and posts.
So, what is it about this festival that has spread its fever across the Indian Hindus and does so every year?
Let’s find out…
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi is celebrated in honour of Lord Ganesha, the “elephant headed” on his birthday. Lord Ganesha is known to bring good fortune, wealth and prosperity and every auspicious function is started by evoking his blessings called Shubh Aarambh. This auspicious festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid August-mid September) all across the globe, and the grandest celebrations take place in Maharashtra. The festival is celebrated for 10-12 days, the last day being the Anant Chaturdashi.
The History behind the festival
The oft-told story that we’ve been hearing from our parents and grandparents dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. In order to guard her bathroom door while she bathed in the absence of Lord Shiva, Parvati created Ganesha from her sandalwood paste. On Shivji’s arrival and Ganesha persistence on not allowing him to go made Lord Shiva enraged who beheaded Lord Ganesha. As per Goddess Parvati’s orders, her followers went in search for a child’s head but all they could find was an elephant head and that’s how Lord Ganesha, the manifestation of an Elephant Headed Lord took birth.
The work for the skilled artisans begins months before the festival arrives. Various artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha in different poses are made, the sizes varying from 3/4th inch to around 70 feet.
Specially erected temporary structures called Mandapas or Pandals are built and the beautiful statues are installed on them in homes, localities and temples, on the first day of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. In order to invoke life of Lord into the idol, the temple priest clad in red silk dhoti performs the rituals of chanting mantras called the “Pranapratishhtha“. After this, prayes are offered to the Lord in 16 different ways called the Shhodashopachara. The statue is smeared with crimson and sandal paste and various offerings of coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva blades of grass and red flowers is made. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
The most famous dish of the festival is modak. A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Modak is known by different names in different parts of the country in their languages, as modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka/kadubu in Kannada, kozhakatta/modakkam in Malayalam and kozhukattai/modagam in Tamil Nadu.
History of Celebrations
The first celebrations of the festivals dates back to the time of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler. The festival continued to be celebrated by the Peshwas, as Lord Ganesha was their local deity, but after the fall of the Peshwa rule, the festival was revived by Bal Gangadhar Tilak also known Lokmanya tilak, the eminent freedom fighter, nationalist and social reformer. The visionary that Tilak was, he noticed that the festival was more common amongst the upper strata of the society and hence decided to bridge the gaps. He realized the national importance of Lord Ganesha and tried to bridge the differences between Brahmins and Non-Brahmins of the country in order to unite all the citizens.
He was the first to put in large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and establish the tradition of their immersion on the tenth day. By making the festival public, he built a platform for all and sundry irrespective of their caste, creed and sex to mingle and unite with each other to form the basis for the freedom struggle.
Apart from India, the festival is also celebrated by the Hindu residents in UK, USA, Malaysia, Canada, Singapore and Mauritius.
Blog Reference : www.padhaaro.com