Ganesh Chathurthi

Ganesh Chathurthi or Vinayaka Chathurthi, the birthday of Lord Ganesha, is one of the most popular Hindu Festival celebrated throughout India and by Hindus around the world. The date of Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. This is August or September each year. It's commonly celebrated for the following 11 days, with the biggest spectacle taking place on the last day called Ananta Chaturdasi. The origin of Ganesh Chaturthi also explains why Ganesha has an elephant head.

According to Hindu Mythology, once Lord Shiva was out hunting with his ‘Ganas' or attendants. Parvati, Shiva's consort, was alone and desired to take a bath. But since there were no attendants to guard the entrance of the house, Parvati created a handsome young Ganesha from mud and asked him not to let anyone inside.

Soon, Lord Shiva returned and found an arrogant guard stopping him from entering his house. In a fit of fury, Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha's head.

When Parvati came to know about the fate of Ganesha, she was overwhelmed with grief and Lord Shiva soon realized the grave mistake he had committed in anger. He asked one of his Ganas to bring the head of the first animal he saw sleeping with its head towards north.

The Gana returned with an elephant's head and Shiva placed it on Ganesha' body and restored his life.

All these extraordinary events of Parvati creating Ganesha from mud and Lord Shiva chopping Ganesha's head and replacing it with an elephant's head took place on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the month Bhadrapada (August – September).

The large scale public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi Festival was started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1893 in Pune. The main intention of Tilak was to galvanize support for India's independence movement.

The modern day celebrations are a continuation of Tilak's version of Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

In 2011, the date of Ganesh Festival is September 01. Ganesh Festival is observed on the fourth day of the Shukla Paksha (Waning Phase of moon) in the Hindu Month of Bhadrapada (August – September).

The orgin of Public celebration of Ganesh festival is traced to the period of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler, who asked people to perform public celebration to promote culture and nationalism in the 17 {+t} {+h} century.The large-scale Ganesh festival of today was revived by Lokmanya Tilak, freedom fighter, in the last decade of 19 {+t} {+h} century in Pune to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy the British who had banned public assemblies. Large-scale Ganesh festival celebrations take place in Maharashtra with millions of people visiting the various community Ganesh Pandals. Thousands of Ganesh statues are installed in various public places in India and in Hindu Temples and community centers around the world during Ganesh Festival.

After celebration, the time of farewell comes and the idol of the beloved God is immersed in water. The celebration ends with the immersion, accompanied by loud shouts of 'Ganapati Bappa Moraya'.


R.M. Rajarathinam

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