Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha a popular deity of Hindus. It is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm all over the country. It is the period of mid-August to mid-September when this festival is celebrated. The Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the biggest festivals in some parts of India such as Maharashtra. The atmosphere is full of happiness, fun, laughter, music and dance. Entire cities become illumined with delightful decorations of colorful lights during the days of the festival.
Ganesh Chaturthi Preparations
Ganesh festival is celebrated on two levels – on a household level and on a broader, social level. If you are inviting your extended family, neighbours and friends for Ganesh Chaturthi events – ‘Sthapana’, ‘Aarti’ or ‘Visarjan’, do consider sending e-invitations to them at least a few days before the event. Before the day of the festival, the house is cleaned thoroughly and all the old, outdated things and objects like old clothes etc. are discarded. A small stage like structure is created at a safe and visible corner of the house for placing the idol of Lord Ganesha. This ‘stage’ is decorated with banana leaves and flowers, colorful streamers and lights. Beautifully colored designs called rangoli are drawn in front of the stage and at the doorsteps.
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Pran Pratishtha – Placing the idol of Lord Ganesha
The idol of Lord Ganesha is bought from idol-makers who specialize in creating beautiful idols. Usually the head of the house carries the idol over his head while bringing it to the home. A priest performs a small ritual to the idol and it is placed at the center of the stage. This ritual is known as pranpratishtha. This is followed by the shodashopchar puja which is a devotional ritual performed with 16 different types of ritualistic ceremonies. Coconut, Jaggery, fruits, red hibiscus flowers, 21 durvas, 21 modaks etc. are offered at the altar of the idol and prayers and artis are sung loudly by people in front of the idol.
Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations
The celebrations continue for 10 days until the 11th day of Anant Chaturdashi when the idol is immersed into the sea. Many rituals, pujas, etc. are performed. People sing artis twice every day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Some households keep the idol for limited number of days such as one and half day, five days and seven days instead of the full 10 days. On the social level, bigger idols are placed on beautifully decorated stages inside tents called a mundup. Some communities arrange various entertainment programs during the days such as games, plays, musical orchestras, singing competitions, fancy dress competitions, etc.
The 11th day is the day when people say good-bye to their loved deity. The statue is worshiped and artis and devotional songs are sung in front of it for one last time. It is then carried to the seashore or a river or pond. It is again worshiped at the shore or bank of the river and then immersed into the water with tearful eyes. People and children shout ‘Ganpati bappa moraya’ and tell their beloved Lord Ganesha to come earlier the next year with lot of good health, joy and prosperity.
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