Son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, ‘Vignaharta’ is believed to keep us from all obstacles and inhibitions. Ganesh Chaturthi( Vināyaka Chaturthi) which falls on the fourth day of the first fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada in the Hindu calendar, signifies the birth of Lord Ganesha. This year it falls on 5th of September and lasts until the 15th of the month. The celebrations last for ten days wherein clay idols of Ganesha are installed in houses and workplaces. In certain regions of the country, the scale of celebration is humongous. Huge idols of Vinayaka are set up in public areas and everyone from the locality regardless of caste , creed and color come to offer their prayers to the God with the brilliance of a thousand suns. There is jubilance in faces and unending love in the hearts. The origin of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in public harks back to the time when India was still struggling in the hands of oppressive Britishers. An initiative by Lokmanya Tilak, the celebration got people across different strata of the society together. Forgetting all their differences they celebrated the day with sheer joy and harmony. Ever since the auspicious day has been binding us together, making it better every passing year.
At homes, families install small clay statues and decorate them with brightly coloured flowers and lights. The idols are offered with area, mandaar, champaka and durthaara, strands of young grass and are worshiped in the morning and evening. Karanji and Modaks are offered as prasad. The worship ends with the singing of an aarti in honour of Ganesha. The ten-day long stay of Ganesha is observed with paramount fondness. Houses are decorated with brightly coloured flowers and lights. And the devotees adorn themselves with new dresses. Children offer their books to the ‘God of Wisdom’ so as to be blessed with knowledge and academic excellence. All-in-all this festival has something for everyone in the store.
Public celebrations of the festival witness mass participation. People get engaged in large scales starting from the craftsmen who create the videos, the youngsters, and communities who organise, to hawkers and vendors. Every single entity adds to the charm of the occasion in their own unique way.
It is believed that by the end of the tenth day Lord Ganesha takes away all the negativities from our lives leaving us only with gallons of blessings and love. However, this goodbye is no trivial affair. The immersion of Lord Ganesha popularly known as ‘Visarjan’ is of great significance. It means that everything in this world would be informed a day. The process of getting formed and unformed goes forever as a never ending cycle. Every year Ganesha come to make us sure about the Supreme Truth of life. There is no count of the number of effigies that are immersed, massive crowds gather at the riverside to bid goodbye to our trunk-faced friend only to wait for him to come back the next year. Maharashtra witnesses the largest procession in the country. This is done communally in housing societies, residential colonies, villages and localities, and privately in individual homes all across Mumbai.
Like every good thing, the way we celebrate Ganeshotsav also has its own downsides which are hazardous for the environment.
Made of plaster of Paris, these Ganesha idols become environment hazards when they are immersed. Gypsum from which they are made is insoluble and forms a layer that chokes ponds and lakes,
With the passage of years, we have seen a grown consciousness in the minds of the devotees. The growing environmental concerns have begun to reflect in the way this occasion used to be celebrated. However, we have a long way to go. Let's adhere to more sustainable ways to commemorate this auspicious day with idols made of natural clay, fibre and even recycled paper.
What celebration is complete without indulging in some treat for the tummy. Doesn't Ganesha himself preach this message with his enormously cute and cuddly belly? Here are five recipes that Lord Ganesha loves - Karanji, Vadapapu, Puranpoli, Sweet Modak