Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Ganesh to earth from Kailash Parvat with his mother Goddess Parvati/Gauri. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesh clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals. Offerings and prasadam from the daily prayers, which are distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka as it is believed to be a favourite of Lord Ganesh. The festival ends on the tenth day after start, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea.
The festival celebrates Lord Ganesh as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India, especially in the states such as Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, and is usually celebrated privately at home in Tamil Nadu.
Public preparations for the festivities begin months in advance. Local Mandapa or Pandal’s are usually funded either from donations by local residents or hosted by businesses or community organisations. The making of the Murti in Maharashtra usually begins with “Padya pooja” or worshipping the feet of Lord Ganesh. The Murti’s are brought to “pandals” on the day or a day before the festival begins. The pandals have elaborate decoration and lighting.
At home, the festival preparation includes purchases such as puja items or accessories a few days in advance and booking the Ganesh murti as early as a month beforehand (from local artisans). The murti is brought home either a day before or on the day of the Ganesh Chaturthi itself. Families decorate a small, clean portion of the house with flowers and other colourful items before installing the idol. When the Murti is installed, it and its shrine are decorated with flowers and other materials. On the day of the festival, The ceremonial installation of the clay murti (idol) is done along with chants of holy mantras and pooja including bhajans during a certain auspicious period of the day.
In Maharashtra, Ganesh Chaturthi is known as Ganeshotsav. Families install small clay statues for worship during the festival. The Murti is worshiped in the morning and evening with offerings of flowers, durva(strands of young grass), karanji and modaks (jaggery and coconut flakes wrapped in rice flour dumplings). The worship ends with the singing of an aarti in honour of Ganesh, other Gods and Saints.
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Is Ganesh Chaturthi(Vinayaka Chaturthi) a Public Holiday?
Ganesh Chaturthi(Vinayaka Chaturthi) is an optional holiday. Employment and holiday laws in India allow employees to choose a limited number of holidays from a list of optional holidays. Some employees may choose to take the day off on this day, however, most offices and businesses remain open.
This is one of the most popular festivals in the Country. There are several reasons for this. Ganpati is after all a popular God. His blessings are invoked at most religious ceremonies as He is the one who can remove all obstacles to success. He is the giver of fortune and can help to avoid natural calamities.
Public celebrations of the festival are popular, and are organised by local youth groups, neighbourhood associations or groups of tradespeople. Funds for the public festival are collected from members of the association arranging the celebration, local residents and businesses. The Ganesh idols and accompanying statues are installed in temporary shelters, known as mandaps or pandals. The festival features cultural activities such as singing, theatre and orchestral performances and community activities such as free medical checkups, blood-donation sites and donations to the poor. Ganesh Chaturthi, in addition to its religious aspects, is an important economic activity in Mumbai, Surat, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Kurnool. Many artists, industries, and businesses earn a significant amount of their living from the festival, which is a stage for budding artists. Members of other religions also participate in the celebration.
The primary sweet dish during the festival is Modak. A modak is a dumpling made from rice or wheat flour, stuffed with grated coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and other condiments and steamed or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji, similar to modak in composition and taste but in a semicircular shape. This sweet meal is called Nevri in Goa and is synonymous with Ganesh festival amongst the Goans and the Konkani diaspora.
Due to environmental concerns, a number of families now avoid bodies of water and let the clay statue disintegrate in a barrel of water at home. After a few days, the clay is spread in the garden. In some cities a public, eco-friendly process is used for the immersion.
Wish you a Happy and a Blessed Ganesh Chaturthi 2020!
Ganpati Bappa Morya!!