It is that time of the year when Lord Ganesha is welcomed into our houses, offer our daily prayers and enjoy the delicious modaks prepared for the elephant-headed deity, son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha. It is a 10-day celebration denoting the arrival of Ganesha on earth, the lord of success and knowledge.
It starts on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August–September). On the first day of this celebration, specially crafted idols of Lord Ganesha are installed in homes by devotees and on the last day of the celebration, the idols are immersed in a water body. During the 10-day celebration period people enjoy eating modaks and hymn aartis dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The festival ends on the tenth day, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and dance with herds of group chanting “Ganpati Bappa Morya“, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea. The immersion of the idol is called Ganesh Visarjan.
In Mumbai alone, around 150,000 statues are immersed annually. Thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesh is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva. The festival celebrates Lord Ganesh as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India, especially in the states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh.
The celebration of this festival began 125 years ago in Pune and is still celebrated in the state of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh with fervor. In Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple, Prabhadevi, thousands of devotees from all around the world attend prayer meetings. To honor Lord Ganesha, devotees offer milk, jaggery, coconuts, money, flowers, and sweets to him.
This festival or offering prayers to Lord Ganesha is said to expel the impediment and make good circumstances for progress. It brings knowledge, riches, and satisfaction of want. Chanting the mantra “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha” helps in fulfillment of all wishes.