Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi also known as 'Vinayak Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chavithi' is celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Ganesh Chaturthi also known as 'Vinayak Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chavithi' is a Hindu festival, celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune on Ganesh Chaturthi. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month which usually falls in month of August or September in English calendar.

Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi:

Lord Ganesha also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu religion. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the brother of Lord Kartikeya. Lord Ganesha is represented with human body having elephant head. Usually He is portrayed with four hands and carries a noose and a goad in upper hands. One of the lower hands of Lord Ganesha is shown in Abhay Mudra while in the other lower hand He holds a bowl full of Modaks. Mouse is the mount of Lord Ganesha.

Lord Ganesha is representation of three honor namely Buddhi, Siddhi and Riddhi known as wisdom, spirituality and prosperity respectively. While Buddhi represents Lord Ganesha himself, the other two honour are personified as Goddesses and considered to be the wifes of Lord Ganesha. It is believed that Riddhi and Siddhi were daughters of Lord Brahma who himself conducted wedding ceremony of Lord Ganesha.

As per Shiva Purana, Lord Ganesha had two sons who were named as Shubh and Labh. Shubh was the son of Goddess Riddhi and Labh was the son of Goddess Siddhi. Shubh and Labh are symbol of auspiciousness and profit respectively. As Ganesh is known as the giver of fortune, his blessings are often invoked at religious ceremonies to remove all obstacles and bring good fortune.

There are 8 incarnations of Lord Ganesha which are the most significant one and famously known as Ashta Vinayaka. Lord Ganesha is also worshiped in 32 different forms. The birth anniversary is celebrated on Shukla Chaturthi during Bhadrapada lunar month and the day is popularly known as Ganesha Chaturthi. Magha Krishna Chaturthi is observed as Sakat Chauth in North India. Although, it is not celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, it is considered a significant day to worship Lord Ganesha. Shukla Chaturthi during Magha month is observed as Ganesha Jayanti and it is celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha apart from Ganesha Chaturthi in Maharashtra and Konkan regions. 

It is advisable not to not see the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. It is believed that seeing moon on Ganesh Chaturthi creates Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank which means false accusation of stealing something. As per Purana, Lord Krishna was falsely accused of stealing precious jewel named Syamantaka after sighting moon on the day of Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi. This is because God Chandra has been cursed by Lord Ganesha that anyone who sighted moon on Shukla Chaturthi during Bhadrapada month would be cursed with Mithya Dosha and would be tainted and dishonoured in the society. Lord Krishna observed Ganesha Chaturthi fasting to get rid of Mithya Dosha on On the advice of sage Narada. Depending on start and end time of Chaturthi Tithi, sighting of moon might be prohibited for two consecutive days. Moon should not be sighted while Chaturthi Tithi is prevailing, as well as Moon risen during Chaturthi should not be sighted even if Chaturthi Tithi gets over before moon set. If anyone has mistakenly sighted moon on Ganesha Chaturthi then he should chant following Mantra to get rid of the curse:

Simhah Prasenamavadhitsimho Jambavata Hatah 
Sukumaraka Marodistava Hyesha Syamantakah

The most popular mantra for Lord Ganesh is:
Shree Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvada

The meaning of this mantra is: O Lord Ganesha of the curved trunk and massive body, the one whose splendor is equal to millions of Suns, please bless me to that I do not face any obstacles in my endeavors.

Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi:

Ganesha Chaturthi is famous Hindu festival and celebrated throughout India in a very public manner. Local communities compete with each other to decorate the most impressive pendal and Ganesha statue in display.

Although the festival is celebrated all over India, the celebrations are the most elaborated and the grandest in Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka. There is grand celebration in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. In these cities you can enjoy Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations to the fullest. It is originated as a public festival in the city of Pune, in the state of Maharashtra for more than 125 years ago. Sardar Krishnaji Khasgiwale, freedom fighter Bhausaheb Rangari or freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak are some of the persons behind this historical event. The main purpose of celebration was to bring people of different classes and castes together to unite them against the British rule. The idol at Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati temple in Budhwar Peth is very popular and historical.

The festival in Mumbai takes place in a special way at Siddhivinayak temple, situated in the central south Mumbai, which is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. An uncountable number of devotees visit the temple to join in prayers and pay their respects to the God during the festival. In addition, around 10,000 statues of Lord Ganesh are displayed at various locations across the city.

Lord Ganesha is considered the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles. He is worshipped first among all Gods and before starting any Puja or ritual. The day before Ganesha Chaturthi, people buy beautiful Ganesha Idol and a day long fasting will be done on next day after ritualistically installing Ganesha idol on Ganesha Chaturthi. Worship of Lord Ganesha will continue for next 10 days. Modak, Til and Jaggery Laddu, Besan Laddu which is made of gram flour or chickpea flour, Motichoor Laddu are offered as prasad to Lord Ganesha in these 10 days of worship.

Lord Ganesha is worshiped with all sixteen rituals along with chanting of Puranik Mantras during Ganesha Chaturthi Puja. Worshipping Gods and Goddesses with all 16 rituals is known as Shodashopachara Puja. Although Ganesha Puja can be done throughout the day, but Madhyahnakala is preferred during Ganesha Chaturthi Puja. Deep Prajawalan and Sankalpa are done before starting the Puja and these two are not part of core sixteen steps of Shodashopachara Puja.

Avahana and Pratishthapan are two rituals that are done for newly bought statues of Lord Ganesha either made of clay or made of metal. A number of mantras are recited during this step. These two steps can be skipped if you have Lord Ganesha installed at your home and is worshiped daily. Pre-installed statue of Lord Ganesha at home are not given Visarjan but given Utthapana at the end of Puja. 

A special worship ceremony is performed by offerings of sweets, flowers, rice, coconut, jaggery, and coins to the God. The statue is also anointed with red Chandan powder. Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha every day during the festival. Temples devoted to Lord Ganesha also organize special events and prayers. Flowers and leaves are given utmost importance while worshiping Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Hindu rituals. All Gods and Goddesses have their own favorite list of flowers and leaves. Devotees choose only those flowers and leaves which are favorite of the deity, while worshiping Gods and Goddesses.

Some flowers and leaves are prohibited for some of the deities and should not be offered to them. 21 different types of leaves are suggested for Ganesha Chaturthi Puja and popularly known as Patris Puja or Patra Puja. As it is not practical to have all of them during the Puja time, devotees can include some of them in Puja Samagari. During Ganesh Chaturthi, devotees offer Anga Puja along with Eka Vinshati Name Ganesh Puja and Shodashopachara Ganesh Puja to seek blessing of Lord Ganesha. In Anga Puja each vital body part of God Ganesha is worshiped along with chanting of Mantra. Anga Puja is integral part of Deva Puja rituals.

After 10 days of Ganesha Chaturthi, the day is considered significant to bid farewell to Lord Ganesha known as Anant Chaturdashi. Anant Chaturdashi is the final day of Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations when the idols of Lord Ganesha are offered to water body through Visarjan and immersion. Anant Chaturdashi is the most significant day for Ganesha Visarjan. Apart from Ganesha Visarjan, Anant Chaturdashi is very significant day to worship Lord Vishnu in Anant form. In this day the devotees of Lord Vishnu observe a day long fast and tie sacred thread during Puja. It is believed that sacred thread protects devotees from all sorts of trouble. 

After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and sweets, the statues of Lord Ganesha are taken to the water body preferably in a river, lake or the sea through the street procession with much fanfare. But, The idol of Lord Ganesha can be immersed in the water of tub or bucket. Thousands of devotees join the procession and fill the whole atmosphere with chanting of Lord Ganesha. "Ganapati Bappa Morya" and "Ganesh Maharaj Ki, Jai" are few of the famous slogans which are chanted throughout the procession.

The immersion of the statues in the ocean, or other bodies of water, and subsequent destruction of them signifies that the universe is in a constant state of change. In Mumbai, Ganesha Visarjan is performed in a grand way under the guidance of Ganpati Mandals. The street procession is accompanied with Dhol, Tasha and the other traditional instruments. Ganesha Visarjan continues throughout the night till the next morning. Public life is significantly affected on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi because of the grand street processions that are taken out with much fun and frolic. The roads and streets are blocked with devotees of Lord Ganesha due to which the movement of veichle on some significant roads is blocked. There will be much more traffic due to several Ganesha processions.

In some states, the day of Anant Chaturdashi is declared as dry day to control and minimize the unwanted incidents. On this day, all liqueur shops remain closed and all hotels and restaurants except five stars are prohibited to serve alcohol by local authorities. Anant Chaturdashi is listed under restricted government holidays. Hence, individuals can take a day off on the day of Ganesha Visarjan. An individual gets the flexibility to take time off to celebrate those festivals which are important to their region and religion as per restricted holidays.

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