Chaturthi is the celebration of the birth of Lord Ganesh.
Ganesh is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is one
of the most popular and most worshiped Indian gods. His image is
one of the most widely drawn, painted and sculptured.
He is the
elephant headed god.
Lord Ganesh is remembered on chauth or chaturthi which is the 4th
day of every month of the Hindu calendar, but most of all on Ganesh
Chaturthi which falls on the fourth day of the month of Bhadrapad in the
Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day celebration is observed in
most Hindu homes. Some families host the festival with the Ganapati
murti and aarti and prasaad every evening. People have a tradition to
keep the Ganapati for 1, 5 or 10 days. After the 1/5/10 day
celebration the Ganesh murti is festively taken out of the house and
immersed into the ocean, chanting "Ganpati Bappa Morya,Phudchya
Varshi Lavkaar Ya".
Elephants are very wise animals this indicates
that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. He has a snake tied around his big
stomach and sits on his vehicle - the rat. He is usually depicted with 4 hands. One has a trishul, or a trident, the second, an
ankush, or goad made from his very own broken tooth, the third hand elegantly
holds a lotus and the fourth a rosary, which is sometimes replaced by modaks
- his favorite sweet. His trunk is usually turned towards the left, rarely do we find images of Ganesha with the trunk turned
towards the right.
Many many centuries ago, it has been said that during a war between the Gods and the Demons, Lord
Shiva was away for a long time. His wife, Goddess Parvati, afraid of
being alone for an extended period used her divine powers and created a son, Ganesh, and gave him the responsibility of protecting the
house. When Lord Shiva and his army, returned victorious to his home, Parvati was in her bath, and Ganesh had been strictly instructed not
to allow anyone in. Angered by Ganesh's refusal to allow him into the house, Lord Shiva and his army chopped off the boy's head. When
Parvati came out of her bath, she was shocked and grieved to see her son dead.
Lord Shiva, to pacify, her proclaimed that the head of Ganesh would be replaced by that of the first creature that came up the hill. The
first visitor to the hill was an elephant and his head was promptly cut off and placed on that of the boy Ganesh. His life was restored
by Lord Shiva who also bestowed upon Ganesh the powers of a God and blessed him such that henceforth no activity will begin without
invoking his name and blessings.
Since then, it is said, no new venture - the inauguration of a company, the opening of a shop, the foundation of a building,
entering a new home - is deemed complete by Hindus without performing a Ganesh puja.
He is always honored first in most worship services
and rituals. He is known as the god who removes all obstacles,
one who gives you success in your ventures.
He has 108 names some of them being
- The beloved child Ganapati
- The one
with a single tusk
- The one with an elephant face
- The one with a huge belly
- The omnipotent and all powerful
- The auspicious
- The giver of eternal peace
- One who is adorned with yellow clothes
- The bestower of success
Vakratunda - The Lord with the twisted trunk
Vighnahara - The destroyer of evil
Vighnaharta - The destroyer of obstacles
Vinayak - Lord of All
Vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha
Nirvighne kuru me deva sarva karaye shu sarvada
How to chant :
This sholka or verse is said to bring good luck if chanted
Chant the above shloka with your full devotion. Sit in a quiet place,
cross legged in a comfortable manner, close your eyes for better
concentration. It is considered auspicious to chant a mantra 11 times,
or 108 times or in multiples of 108. Once you have determined the
number you should stick with it. It is said that once
you have fixed upon the number of times you are going to recite the
shloka, you can increase it but cannot decrease it.
Chaturdashi is a day with twin significance.
14th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad is the day of the immersion
of Ganpati. On this day, the festival of Ganpati comes to an
end, the installed Murti's of Lord Ganpati are taken to a lake, river
or a sea in great processions to be immersed in the waters. Thus Lord
Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal
excitement. " Ganapati
Bappa Morya, Phudchya Varshi Lavkaar Ya ! "
: On this day people recite and listen to the stories and legends of
God Vishnu who is Anant, the infinite and recite hymns from the Vedas.
there is a second significance to the day, and that is what gives
Anant Chaturdashi its name. On
this day, which is the fourteenth day of the shukla paksha (the bright
phase of the moon) in the Indian lunar month of Bhadrapada, people
observe a vow in honor of Vishnu. The belief is that if one maintains
this vow for 14 years, it will bring immense wealth and spiritual
year vrat in honor of Vishnu
legend connected with the festival is didactic, rather than
explanatory, in nature. One day, a Brahmin, Kaundinya, and his wife,
Sushila, were on their way home. They stopped by a river because
Kaundinya wanted to take a bath.
he was away, Sushila observed some women praying. When she enquired,
they told her that they were observing the Anant Vrata. They told her
that if they tied a consecrated string around their wrists and
maintained the vrata for 14 years, they would get great material
too started observing the Anant Vrata, and soon, she and Kaundinya
became wealthy. When Kaundinya noticed the string, he asked Sushila
about it. She told him the story. But wealth had made Kaundinya
haughty, and dismissing it as mere superstition, he broke the string
and threw it away.
then on, Kaundinya and Sushila started losing their wealth, and soon
had nothing. Kaundinya was penitent, and went in search of Anant to
get his glory back. But nobody he asked on the way knew who or where
the end, a desperate Kaundinya prepared to commit suicide. At that
moment, an old man approached and took Kaundinya to a cave. Once
inside the dark cave, the old man turned into Vishnu, and told
Kaundinya that he would regain his lost happiness and wealth if he
observed the Anant Vrata for 14 years.
Anant Chaturdashi, the image of a hooded cobra is fashioned out of
darbha (grass), and is worshipped with flowers and incense as Anant,
the divine snake on whom Lord Vishnu lies. Special dishes - Gharga
are made and offered to the darbha snake. A string, coated with
red kumkum, is placed before the idol or picture of Vishnu. Then, the
consecrated string, called anant, is tied to the wrist. Men tie it on
their right hands, and women, on their left.
number 14 is considered sacred for this vow. On this fourteenth day of
the moon, 14 floral decorations are made. Similarly, 14 artis and food
items are offered to the deity. The
vrata is observed for 14 years, and ends on the fifteenth Anant
Ganapati Utsav is celebrated all across the country and is one of the the biggest festival's in
the state of Maharashtra.
Though the Ganesh Chaturthi festival had largely been a private one,
it was 1894, when the Maratha politician -
Bal Gangadharva Tilak -
also known as "Lokamanya Tilak"
introduced a new way of celebrating
the Ganapati festival as - collective community worship. He called it
or Public Ganesh festival.
One of Tilak's
to evoke nationalism through religious passions
was the organization of Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, which not
only inspired feelings of Hindu unity in Maharashtra, but gave freedom fighters an opportunity to meet,
when the British government
made it illegal to hold any political gatherings, writings and slogans. Tilak also sought
to have all the immersions take place on the tenth and final day.
Since then this festival just like the many other Indian festivals
that are celebrated with pomp and show, is an extraordinary testimony
to the public place of religion in Indian life.
This form of community celebration became a norm. And today many
communities gather subscriptions from a group like a neighborhood puja
committee or on behalf of a
residential area, market, or organization for the purchase of large
idols of Ganesh. These large Ganesh idols are then placed on
pavilions or "mandaps" and amidst much
fanfare and revelry, the priest installs the idol of Ganesh by
chanting shlokas or sanskrit holy verses. These huge idols of Ganesh
are then made the object of collective worship for the rest of the
For several months prior to
the celebration, sculptors in Mumbai and the nearby cities and villages of Pune and Pen work overtime to create hundreds of
thousands of clay idols of Ganesh. They paint and decorate them to
make them look surreal. Idols in every size, pose and color are brought into Mumbai to be sold to homes, stores
and businesses. Some devotees select and buy their Ganesh on the same
day and others place their orders months in advance. The larger idols
are often very large, standing several feet high.
temple is on the corner of Kakasaheb Gadgil Marg and S.K.Bole Marg in
idol of Shree Siddhivinayak was carved out of a single black stone and
is 2’6” (750mm) high and 2’ (600mm) wide with the trunk on the
right. This is rather unusual appearance of Lord Ganesh. The upper
right and left hands hold a lotus and an axe respectively while the
lower right and left hands hold a rosary (japmala) and bowl full of
“Modak” respectively. As it resembles the sacred thread, a snake
appears on the left shoulder to right side belly. On the forehead of
deity is an eye, which almost looks like the third eye of Lord Shiva. On
both sides of the Lord Ganesh idol, are placed one idol each of Riddhi
and Siddhi goddesses who appear as if they are peeping out of the Ganesh
idol from behind. Because
of these two deities along with Lord Ganesh, this temple is known as
the Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple.
These goddesses signify sanctity, success, wealth and prosperity.
and information are courtesy of the Siddhi Vinayak temple website.
At individual homes, after the Ganesh idol is
brought, it is
ceremoniously installed by the head of the house hold in the
"home mandir" or "Pooja
Ghaar" - temple. The home temple is
cleaned, and "rangoli" decorations are done. The various rituals that
take place are the
ceremonious decoration of the idol with ornaments, flowers and lights,
chanting of the sanskrit verses, and
of a special prasad. A twenty-one "Modak" prasad - a type of
Indian sweet -is offered during this pooja.
"Puja" and "aarti" are performed every morning and
evening using red flowers like the red hibiscus, or any other red flower,
rice, supari - betel nuts and leaves, haldi- turmeric, kumkum - red
powder, milk, incense and oil lamps. Most people rush home from work to take part in the festivities and gather around the brightly-lit
Ganesha. Everyone joins in to sing the "bhajans" - hymns.
Here is the
aarti for Ganesh Chathurti sung by no other than Lata Mangeshkar. '
present is given a few flowers and rice in their hands. These are
later showered on Ganesh. The most common offerings of prasad to
Ganapati are modaks, pedhas and coconut. The prasad can be bought from the local sweet stores all over town. The blessed offerings or
prasad are then distributed amongst the devotees.
According to individual family traditions, Ganapati celebrations are held for one and a half, five, seven, or ten days.
The idols are
immersed into the river, sea or wells on the second, fifth, seventh
or eleventh day of the festival on - Ananta Chaturdashi very
ceremoniously. From small family processions to huge community processions on foot accompany the idol of Ganesh that has been
worshipped, to the immersion site chanting loudly "GANPATI BAPPA
MORYA, PHOOD CHYA VARSHI LUVKAAR YAA" or "Oh My Lord
come again soon next year". Along with the big immersion ceremony,
are music performances on beautifully decorated stages called
pandaals, cart races and wrestling matches. It is also forbidden to
look at the moon on that day as the moon had laughed at Ganesha when he fell from his vehicle, the rat.
Ganesh's favorite sweet is the
Ukadee che modak. These are like sweet
steamed rice (flour) dumplings. It is customary to make these during
this festival. They are very delicate and tender. The shape above is
called a modak shape. Many pedhas too are shaped like this and sold at
this time in many Indian sweet stores. It does take practice to make
this delicate dessert. The inside is filled with a coconut and jaggery
Fasting during this festival is not very common practice. The few who
do keep a fast are allowed to eat various sweets like "til ladoo"
round Indian sweet made of sesame seeds and jagery, "rewari"
sweets made of jaggery and nuts, along with tea and coffee.