Vinayaka Chaturthi is when everyone's beloved Ganesha is worshipped with much fanfare

D.S. Nanjundaiah, a resident of Devanahalli, is among the Hindus for whom Vinayaka Chaturthi is a time when Ganesha, believed to be the remover of all obstacles, must be worshipped and propitiated. His family is among the many that observe the Chaturthi Vrata.

“Observing the Vrata is a way of pleasing the Lord and seeking his intervention at every obstacle I may face in life,” he says.

Mr. Nanjundaiah and his family clean the house the previous day and decorate it with banana stems, mango leaves and flowers, particularly the red ones that are believed to be dear to Ganesha. Mr. Nanjundaiah's wife, Latha, prepares the elephant god's favourite delicacies “Chakkuli”, “Modaka” and “Karigadubu”.

Early on the Chaturthi morning, they clean the house again and install the clay Ganesha idol on a raised platform, sometimes just a wooden chair decorated with banana stems, mango leaves and garlands.

Mr. Nanjundaiah invites an archak to perform the vrata. The archak performs the “prana pratishthapane”, various sevas, including “dhoopa” (burning of incense sticks), “deepa” (lamp), flowers, aarati, and “akshate” (offering of red/ yellow coloured rice). “Naivedya” (consecrated food) that includes fruits, soaked Bengal gram and prepared delicacies, are offered to Ganesha.

After the puja, Mr. Nanjundaiah distributes the prasada, including the Bengal gram to all those present.

By this time, his wife would have prepared a sumptuous festival feast for family and friends.

Hindu families that worship Ganesha on the occasion of Vinayaka Chaturthi, believe that the puja they offer will make one of the oldest deities clear the hurdles to a happy and prosperous life.

Known as “Vighna Nivaraka” (eliminator of hurdles), Ganesha is worshipped across the country, particularly in South India. Vinayaka Chaturthi, the birthday of Lord Ganesha, falls on the fourth day of “Shukla Paksha” (bright half) of the month of “Bhadrapada” of the Hindu Lunar Calendar.

Everyone will strive to please Ganesha, says Nagesh Adiga, chief archak at the Eeshanyamukhi (Gudde) Ganesha Temple, Hanumanthanagar. Women worship Gowri, Ganesha's mother, the previous day – Tadige.

This year, both Tadige and Chaturthi fall on the same day, and hence both mother and son are worshipped together, Mr. Adiga said.

Though all Hindus worship Ganesha on the occasion of Chaturthi, very few families observe the Chaturthi Vrata. Those observing the Vrata start the day by installing the Ganesha idol made of clay at home in the morning. They then “invoke life” (“prana pratishthapane”) into the idol by reciting mantras, perform the puja, offer various delicacies and immerse the idol in the evening or any future day after performing the “Visarjanam” ritual.

While different families choose different days to immerse the Ganesha idol, Mr. Nanjundaiah immerses the Ganesha the same evening at the village tank.

The Lord comes and stays with us during the Chaturthi and the immersion symbolises his return from earth after removing all obstacles, he said.