Ganesh Chaturthi – Celebrating the Birth of Lord Ganesha

The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated every year to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha. This deity is also known as Lord Vinayak and therefore this day is also known as Vinayak Chaturthi. While this festival is celebrated all over India, the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka celebrate it in a big way. This festival falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada and is celebrated on the fourth day of the waxing period of the moon. This roughly corresponds to a date between mid August-mid September in the Gregorian calendar. This year, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations are expected to begin from 19 September 2012. The duration of celebration varies from one and a half days to eleven days, based on the traditions being followed.

Ganesha: The Lord of Prosperity and More

Lord Ganesha, the son of God Shiva and Goddess Parvati is a popular deity. He is the elephant God, with a tusk resting on his fat belly. He is invoked as the God of prosperity, wisdom and good fortune. He is also worshipped as the remover of all obstacles and trouble. Before starting out on a business venture, people often invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi, so that they may be successful in the work sphere. Students worship Lord Ganesha so that they may succeed in all intellectual pursuits.

Legends Associated with Lord Ganesha

There are many legends associated with Lord Ganesha. According to one account, Goddess Parvati had created Ganesha from a sandalwood dough she used for her bath. One day, before bathing she placed him in front of the door to guard her. Lord Shiva happened to enter their dwelling at this point. As he was a stranger, Lord Ganesha tried to prevent him from entering. In anger, Lord Shiva cut off his head. When Parvati realized what had happened, she was upset. To placate her and to restore their son, Shiva then fixed the head of an elephant on his body.

According to another account, a competition was once organized between Lord Karitk, the brother of Ganesha, and Lord Ganesha, to determine who would be the leader of the world. The task was to take three rounds of the world and the first person to complete this would be the winner. Lord Kartik immediately set out on his vehicle, the peacock. Lord Ganesha, the wise one, encircled his parents thrice and declared that as they were his world, he considered his task complete. The Gods were pleased with this act of Lord Ganesha and declared him to be their leader.

Celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi

Months before Ganesh Chaturthi, artisans get busy constructing idols of Lord Ganesha. They pay great attention to detail as they construct a life-like image of the Lord. While small idols are bought for worship at homes, the tallest idols are more than 60-70 feet high and are meant for public celebrations. These massive idols of Lord Ganesha are then placed in a temporary structure (a pandal) created specifically for this period of worship. Thereafter, the priest chants holy verses to invoke the Lord to reside in this deity for the next few days. On each day, prayers are chanted and devotional songs are sung. On the final day, the idol is carried in a huge procession and immersed in the sea. A popular chant by the devotees at this time is Ganapati bappa mourya (Hail Lord Ganesha).

Last updated on 19 September 2012