Ganesh Chaturthi, also called Vinayaka Chavithi, is an auspicious Hindu festival which is celebrated for 10 days every year. The festival is celebrated in the Bhadra month as per the Hindu calendar which generally falls in mid-August to September. It marks the birthday of the beloved elephant-headed Lord Ganesha.
Ganesha is known as the God of wealth, sciences, knowledge, wisdom and prosperity, and that’s why most Hindus remember him and seek his blessings before starting any important work. Lord Ganesh is known by 108 different names like Gajanana, Vinayaka, and Vighnaharta among others.
This festival is celebrated with great devotion and joy by Hindus throughout the world. In India, it is majorly celebrated in states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana.
This year, Ganesh Chaturthi beings on September 2 (Monday) and September 12 (Thursday) marks the Ganesha Visarjan day.
Ganesh Chaturthi history
Ganesha is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. There are various stories behind his birth but two of them are the most common ones.
According to the first story, Lord Ganesha was created by Parvati out of dirt from her body to guard her in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the task of guarding her bathroom door while she took a bath. In the meantime, Shiva returned home and Ganesha, who didn’t know who Shiva was, stopped him. This angered Shiva and he severed Ganesha’s head after a tiff between the two. Parvati was enraged when she came to know about this; Lord Shiva, in turn, promised to get Ganesha back to life. The devas were sent to search for a child’s head facing north but they could only find an elephant’s head. Shiva fixed the elephant’s head on the child’s body, and that how Ganesha was born.
The other popular story is that the Devas requested Shiva and Parvati to create Ganesha so that he can be a Vighnakarta (creator of obstacles) for rakshasas (demons), thus being a Vighnaharta (averter of obstacles) and helping Devas.
Ganesh Chaturthi importance
It is believed that devotees who pray to Ganesha are able to fulfill their wishes and desires. So, the main essence of Ganesh Chaturthi is that devotees who pray to him are set free of sins and it leads them on the path of knowledge and wisdom.
Historically, the festival has been celebrated since the time of King Shivaji. It was during India’s freedom struggle that Lokmanya Tilak changed Ganesh Chaturthi from a private celebration to a grand public festival where people from all castes of the society can come together, pray and be united.
Over the years with growing environmental awareness, people have started celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in an environmentally friendly way. This includes– getting Ganesha idols made of natural clay/ mitti and using only flowers and natural items for decorating the pandals.