Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most admired festivals in India. People eagerly wait for the merriments to begin as it is celebrated all over the country with fervor and excitement, especially in the state of Maharashtra. It is also celebrated in places outside India, which have a fair share of Hindu population.
According to Hindu Mythology, it is believed that Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati was born on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the lunar month. This is why the sacred festival of Ganesh Chaturthi marks the birth of the elephant-headed god and is celebrated by devotees on a grand scale all over. Known popularly as the god of wisdom and prosperity, he is widely worshipped as Vigneshwara, the remover of obstacles. Revered as the deity of happiness, his blessings are invoked at all religious ceremonies or at the beginning of any auspicious work.
Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi begin a few months in advance when people start cleaning their houses to welcome the benevolent deity. Local craftsmen get busy creating idols of the lord in different shapes and sizes. Marquees or pandals are erected on brightly lit streets so that worshipers can make offerings and seek blessings.
On the day of the festival, life-sized idols adorn the streets while some idols are brought into houses and installed for a period of one and half, three, five, seven, ten or twelve days. Whatever may be the period; each idol is decorated with colourful garlands and jewelry and is worshipped with special prayers – morning and night. Piles of fruits and sweets especially modaks – an Indian sweet prepared using rice or flour with jaggery, coconut and dry fruits are offered to the lord along with other delicacies.
Celebrations continue with pomp and enthusiasm until the day of the visarjan when the idol is taken to a large water body for immersion. A long procession takes place where people dance, sing and celebrate on the streets. Once the idol reaches the lake, river, or sea, it is ceremoniously immersed in the water with cries of ‘Ganpati Bappa Moriya, Pudchya Varshi Lavakarya.’ (O Lord Ganpati, please come again next year).
*All photographs belong to That Foodie Chick