Ganesha Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is a Hindu festival of Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
The festival is celebrated by the Hindus all over the world, as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Ganesha is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival.
As per the Hindu calendar the festival comes in the month of "Bhaadrapad", ie between August and September. The festival is celebrated for 11 days, till Anant Chaturdashi.
Indian freedom fighter Lokamanya Tilak started Ganesh Chaturthi as a public festival in order to bring the people from all casts and communities together. Under Tilak's encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation.
The festval involved, intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, dramas, musical concerts and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities.
In order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings. Tilak started worshipping of big idols of Ganesha in public halls.
He began the practice of immersing the idol in sea or other pools of water. Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and pandals.
Prior to Ganesh Chaturthi about 2 to 3 months, the artistic clay statues of Ganesha are made for sale by skilled artisans. They are beautifully designed & depict Lord Ganesh in various poses.
The size of these statues may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet. Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated houses and specially erected temporary structures called Pandals.
Theare decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current social happenings.
The idols are worshiped with families and friends.
Shri. Ganesha Pujan
Pooja means the traditional ceremony by which God is worshipped. However, the devotion is the indispensable part of any pooja, by which, even simple gestures and poojas are like sacred rituals.
Pooja is usually done in the early morning. It is traditional to fast at least three hours before the pooja. The pooja can be led by any one of the family members and others should join.
Before entering the shrine room, all the attendees should take bath, dress in clean clothes and bring a small offering of flowers or fruits. Fruits offered are-bananas, mangos, limes, pomegranates and jackfruit.
The altar should be at a lower level (a chaurang),so that pooja can be performed by seating down on the floor. An image or a statue of the God is placed in the center of the altar.
Traditionally, a framed picture or Kalash is also prefered for pooja. The worship begins with the "Sthapana" (establishment) of the idol with Panchamrit bath.
Then all mantras and artis are recited. Then Lord Ganesha through the prayers is brought to life and which is called 'Pranpratishtha'. Once the 'Pranpratishtha' is done, then you need to light the lamp and incense sticks.
By doing this one gets the feeling of pleasing the 'God. After this you have to perform the ' Shhodashopachara ', which are 16 forms of paying tribute to shree Ganesha.
Here you offer 21 Druva grass blades, 21 Modakas, and Flowers to Ganesha You need to apply a Tikka of red Sandalwood paste on the forehead of the Deity and keep the coconut along with the idol.
After 'Prasada' ie Modak and other sweets are offered to the God, you simply need to recite the 108 salutations dedicated to Shree Ganesha.
Thereafrer, all of the family members bow down to Ganesha and ask for Gods blessings to fulfill all their desire.
The worshipper, clad in silk dhoti and shawl, invokes life into the statue by chanting the mantras, which is called the Pranapratishhtha, after which Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows.
21 modakas, coconut, jaggery, 21 durva ie grass blades and red flowers are offered. During the pooja, Vedic mantras from the Rig Veda, Ganapati Atharvashirsha and the Ganesha stotra are chanted.
For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession for immersion.
On immersion days, the idol is taken to the sea, river etc. through the streets in a musical procession with people dancing and singing in full enthusiasum. This is a ritual to see-off of Ganesha in his journey to his abode in Kailash.
Gauri is another name of Goddess Parvati, who the mother of Lord Ganesha. Gauri Ganesha Puja, or Gauri Habba is an important occasion observed in Karnataka on the day prior to Ganesh Chaturthi.
In Karnataka and some parts of Andhra Pradesh it is observed during the Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapada. In parts of Tamil Nadu, in Aavani month the extraordinary creation of Ganesha by Goddess Parvati (Gauri) is celebrated.
It is celebrated by Gauri Habba. This has the significance of woman's power to create wonders. The method of performing Gauri puja differs from community to community and place to place.
So most important is not the ritual but devotion and self-realization. Keep the plate with the Kalash on a decorated table surrounded by Rangoli. Another Kalash is kept next to goddess Gauri which represents Lord Shiva.
Take a single betel leaf and place it before the Kalash. Barks from five different trees must be kept on to the Kalash and mantras are recited so as to do the Avahaan of goddess Gauri.Create an image of Goddess Gauri using turmeric paste.
Place it on the betel leaf. Bangles and other cosmetics are arranged around the Kalash. If clay idol of Gauri is available then place it near the Kalash.
Take the Kalash plate and turmeric Gauri outside of the house and place it carefully on a table or hand it over to a resposible person.
Take a steel glass with uncooked rice and jaggery and place it down on the front door of the house. Now taking the Kalash plate and Gauri in hand, enter the house.
The glass containing uncooked rice is kicked with right foot and overturned it. Enter the house with right foot first. The Kalash and Gauri are placed in the puja room.
Then a regular puja is performed,by chanting the mantras and offering fruits, flowers and neivediya (food offering). Gifts are handed over to the invitee married women.
Gifts are placed on threshing basket (muram), which is decorated using turmeric paste and kumkum and a banana leaf is spread on it with rice grains spread on it. The idol of Gauri is immersed in water on the day Ganesha is immersed.
It is strongly beleived that Goddess Gauri brings peace, prosperity and wealth in life. This puja has the power to remove all the obstacles and it also solves the matrimonial problems.
Thus the entire ceremony is known to be an occasion for those married girls who come to stay with their parents for festive occasion.
In olden day, the married girls were under strong family restrictions and were hardly allowed to go to their parents place. When their parents desired they used to officially give invitation and then the girls used to visit their house.
Gauri-Ganapati was such and occasion, when the girls used to meet their parents and stay with them. Such celebrations serve dual purpose - joy and happiness in the family and also the satisfaction of worshipping the Gauri and Ganesh.
Anant Chaturdashi is the last day of the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav. It is the tenth or eleventh day after Ganesh Chaturthi. On this day,the Ganesha idols specially made for this festval are immersed in to the sea, rivers, ponds or nearby lakes.
The Ganesh idol is carried for immersion by the groups of people dancing on the rhythms of the band or other music. Ganesha is carried in a joyful mood with the slogans to welcome him early the next year.
Big idols are carried on trucks, while the small idols or carried on small carts or on the head. In Mumbai and Pune, the roads are completely packed with the various Ganesha processions.
Special security and traffic arrangements are planned for this day. There are spectators crowding both the sides of the road to get' the holy 'Darshan' of Shri. Ganesha in different sizes and poses.
The tallest idols are 10 to 15 ft. in height.The Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai and Dagdooseth Halwai Ganapati, Pune are the special attractions on this day.
The Pandavas during their exile period asked Lord Krishna the way to get relief from all the obstacles. To this Lord Krishna narrated them this story, which took place in the tretayug.
A Brahmin, Sumant, from Vasishtha gotra, had a daughter, Sushila, from his wife Diksha (Bhrigu's daughter). After the demise of wife Diksha, Sumant got married to Karkash, who used to torture Sushila.
Later, Sushila got married to Kaundinya and both of them decided stay away to avoid the harassment of the step-mother, Karkash. They left the house and on the way Kaundinya wanted to take bath, so they stopped near a river.
Meanwhile Sushila joined a group of women who were performing worship. Sushila curiously asked them about the Worship. They told her that they were worshipping "Anant".
They told her that it was Anant's vow. Then they explained to her the importance of that vow. A food of "Gharga" (made of flour) and "Anarase" (special item) are prepared and half of them are given to a Brahmin.
A hooded snake (cobra) made of "darbha" (sacred grass) is put in a bamboo basket. Then the snake (shesh nag) is worshipped with scented flowers, oil lamp and incense sticks.
Food is offered to the snake and a silk string is kept before the god and tied to the wrist. This string is called "Anant", which has 14 knots and is coloured with "Kunkum". Women tie the "Anant" on their left hand and men on their right.
The purpose of this vow is to obtain divinity and wealth and is kept for 14 years. Convinced Sushila decided to take the Anant vow. After observing the vow, Sushila and her husband Kaundinya began to prosper and became very rich.
However, Kaundinya, beleived that they had become rich, not because of any power of Anant, but because of the intelligence he had and his own efforts.
Due to this a serious argument took place between them and at the end Kaundinya took the Anant string from Sushila's hand and burnt it by throwing it into the fire.
Soon, several tragedies arose in their life and finally they landed in extreme poverty. Kaundinya understood his mistake and came to know that it was the punishment for insulting "Anant".
He decided to undergo rigorous penance until 'Anant' appeared and forgave him. Kaundinya went into a jungle, where he saw a tree full of mangoes, wich was attacked by worms.
He asked the tree if he had seen 'Anant'. Then he saw a cow with her calf, then a bull standing on a field of grass without eating the grass.Then he saw two big lakes merged into each other.
Next he saw a donkey and an elephant. To every one Kaundinya asked about 'Anant', but no one was aware of this name.Kaundinya became so restless and annoyed that he wanted to finish himself.
He tied a rope around his neck and was about to hang on a tree. Miraculously an old brahmin appeared there and removed the rope from Kaundinya's neck and led him into a cave which was very dark.
Soon, a bright glow appeared and they entered a big palace, where large number of people were present. The old brahmin went and occupied the throne.
Kaundinya could now only see Vishnu, in place of the brahmin and realized that Vishnu himself had come to save him, who himself is "Anant". Kaundinya, soon apologised for dishonouring "Anant".
Anant, first, disclosed the fact of what Kaundinya had seen during his search for Anant. He explained that the mango tree was a brahmin, who in a previous life had acquired plenty of knowledge, but had not passed on the same to others.
The cow, who was the earth, had eaten all the seeds of plants, at the begining. The bull was religion itself. Now he was standing on a field of green grass.
The two Lakes were two sisters who loved each other very much, but all their alms were spent on each other only. However," Anant " assured him that if he performed the 14-year-vow, he would be free from all his sins.
Repented Kaundinya observed the 'Anant Vow' and soon started getting positive signs and became very prosperous and stayed happily with his wife Sushila .
Shri. Ganesh Visarjan (Immersion)
Ganesha Visarjan (Immersion) Participants of procession shout together, "Ganapathi Bappa Moarya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar ya" (O dear Ganesha, come again early next year).
After reaching the immersing place, the final pooja is performed and the idol is immersed with the loud salutes to Ganesha. Now days this festival is celebrated by installing tallest Ganesha idols with granderous decorations.
A big contributed money is involved and "Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav" (for all people), is celebrated with various musical programmes, dramas etc. in the presence of various celebrities like film stars, cricketers, political leaders etc.
Ganeshas from indivisual localities are nemed after it like Lalbaug cha Raja, Kandivlicha Raja, Saraswatancha Ganapati etc. The idol is immersed on 1&1/2th , 5th, 6th, 7th and 11th day.