Ganesh Chaturthi

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This spec­tac­u­lar fes­ti­val hon­ors the birth of the beloved Hindu ele­phant-headed god, Lord Gane­sha, pop­u­larly wor­shiped for his abil­ity to re­move ob­sta­cles and bring good for­tune.

When is Ganesh Chaturthi?

Late Au­gust or early Septem­ber, de­pend­ing on the cy­cle of the moon. It falls on the fourth day af­ter new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadra­pada. In 2018, Ganesh Chaturthi is on Septem­ber 13. It is cel­e­brated for 11 days (end­ing on Septem­ber 23), with the big­gest spec­ta­cle tak­ing place on the last day called Anant Chatur­dasi day.

Where is it Cel­e­brated?

Mostly in the states of Ma­ha­rash­tra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kar­nataka and Andhra Pradesh. One of the best places to ex­pe­ri­ence the fes­ti­val is in the city of Mum­bai. Cel­e­bra­tions take place in a spe­cial way at the tow­er­ing Sid­dhiv­inayak tem­ple, lo­cated in the cen­tral suburb of Prab­hadevi, which is ded­i­cated to Lord Gane­sha. An in­cal­cu­la­ble 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 in the city.

How is it Cel­e­brated?

The fes­ti­val be­gins with the in­stal­la­tion of huge elab­o­rately crafted statutes of Gane­sha in homes

and podi­ums, which have been es­pe­cially con­structed and beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated. Ar­ti­sans put months of ef­fort into mak­ing the statues. It’s for­bid­den to look at the moon on this first night as leg­end had it the moon laughed at Lord Gane­sha when he fell from his ve­hi­cle, the rat. On Ananta Chatur­dasi (the last day), the statues are pa­raded through the streets, ac­com­pa­nied by much singing and dancing, and then im­mersed in the ocean or other bod­ies of wa­ter.

In Mum­bai alone, more than 150,000 statues are im­mersed each year!

What Rit­u­als are Per­formed?

Once a statue of Lord Ganesh is in­stalled, a cer­e­mony is un­der­taken to in­voke his holy pres­ence into the statue. This rit­ual is called the Pranapratish­htha Puja, dur­ing which a num­ber of mantras are re­cited. Fol­low­ing this a spe­cial wor­ship is per­formed. Of­fer­ings of sweets, flow­ers, rice, co­conut, jag­gery and coins are made 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.

Those who have a Gane­sha statue in their house treat and care for him as a much loved guest.

Why are the Ganesh Statues Im­mersed in Wa­ter at the End of the Fes­ti­val?

Hin­dus wor­ship idols, or statues, of their gods be­cause it gives them a vis­i­ble form to pray to. They also rec­og­nize that the uni­verse is in a con­stant state of change. Form even­tu­ally gives away to form­less­ness. How­ever, the en­ergy still re­mains. The im­mer­sion of the statues in the ocean, or other bod­ies of wa­ter, and sub­se­quent de­struc­tion of them serves as a re­minder of this be­lief.

What to Ex­pect Dur­ing the Fes­ti­val

The fes­ti­val is cel­e­brated in a very pub­lic man­ner. Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties com­pete with each other to put up the big­gest and best Gane­sha statue and dis­play. Ex­pect very crowded streets, filled with bois­ter­ous devo­tees, and lots of mu­sic.

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