Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India – A Complete Guide
Ganesh Chaturthi is around the corner and it is the best time to visit Mumbai. Celebrated throughout the country, in a grand manner, Ganesh Chaturthi is very famous among Hindus. In 2018, the festival is celebrated from 13th September to 23rd September. This festival is celebrated during the month of Bhadrapada, which spans from mid of August to mid of September. This festival spans for eleven days.
History of the Festival
The history explains that the festival was initially celebrated around 14th or 15th century. However, the event become more popular during 18th century. In 19th century, the festival become a domestic festival, covering even non-brahmins too.
According to Mythology, Lord Parvathi created Ganesh out of dirt and made him guard her place. Shiva, who returned after many days, saw Ganesh guarding the palace and had no idea about who the child was. Shiva demanded that he should be let into the palace and Ganesh refused. After a strong battle between the two, Shiva beheaded Ganesh. When Parvathi returned and saw the headless boy, she was furious.
Shiva promised to make Ganesh live and asked his devas to search for any soul, which had its head facing the north. The search party came with an elephant head, which was placed on the headless boy. Thus, Ganesh was born. This is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi.
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Some communities celebrate this festival to mark the birth of Mahabharata. It is said that Lord Ganesh wrote Mahabharata as Sage Vyasa recited it to him. Ganesh demanded the sage to recite it without any delay or pause. In the process, the writing instrument of Ganesh broke. Since he had no time to get a new one, he broke a part of his ivory and continued writing. It is said that the writing process went for 10 whole days. The duo strives to create the epic after ten days of struggles with no food, water or bath.
After the epic was completely written, on the eleventh day, clay was applied over Ganesh body and he was asked to take bath in a river. These ten days are celebrated during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival and on the eleventh day, the idol is immersed into any water body.
What locals do during Ganesh Chaturthi?
The festival starts with locals trying to make an idol out of clay or buy one from the market. After proper rituals, the deity is placed either in home or in a small pandal (usually done in communities and colonies). Every day, special rituals, celebrations, music performances and other cultural activities are performed. Delicacies are served to everyone who visit the pandals.
On the eleventh day, a large procession takes place, in which, people take the idol towards sea or river (whichever is close by) and immerse the idol into the water. They watch the idol dissolving in the water. Later, they take bath in the water and return back home.
Rituals of the festival
The festival includes four main rituals.
Process of creating an idol. Those who buy idols, perform this ritual while placing the idol in the pandal or in their home, ready for prayers. People pray, sing devotional songs and certain communities perform musical concerts for this ritual.
Paying tribute to the idol. 16 types of prayers are performed during this ritual. This includes providing delicacies, decorating with flowers and others
This ritual takes place right before the deity is taken from the position and placed ready for a procession towards any water body.
Immersing the idol into sea or river. This ritual indicates that God is everywhere and formless. It is also a reminder of the concept that nothing is permanent.
Iconic Temples to visit during Ganesh Chaturthi
a) Ashtavinayaka Temple of Pune – This is one of the eight top temples to visit in Pune during this festival
b) Siddhivinayak Temple of Mumbai – If you want to catch a few celebrities performing Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, this is the right temple.
c) Kanipakam Vinayaka temple of Chittoor – This temple is famous for gala fair during the festival
d) Karpaka Vinayakar temple of Thiruppatthur – This temple is famous for grand cultural performances
e) Chintaman Ganesh temple of Ujjain – This temple is famous for ancient rituals.
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Top Regions Famous for Ganesh Chaturthi
a) Mumbai – Celebrated throughout the region
b) Pune – Visit Kasba Ganpati temple or Dagduseth Halwai temple during the celebration
c) Bengaluru – Visit Ulsoor Lake or Sankey Tank during the immersion ritual
d) Goa – Visit Margoa and Panjim beach for traditional rituals. You can enjoy unique processions in Goa during this festival
e) Hyderabad – Hussain Sagar Lake is the right place to visit the last stages of the festival
f) Thriuvananthapuram – Take part in the traditional procession, which includes local instrumental dance, elephants and others.
g) Chennai – Visit Marina beach for an extravaganza time (Full-day Chennai Private Sightseeing Tour)
Top Delicacies of Ganesh Chaturthi
This festival is all about rituals and delicacies. If you are a foodie, you ought to visit India during this festival. Top delicacies to enjoy during this festival are:
1. Modak or Puranpoli
An all-purpose flour pancake made with cardamom, jaggery and chickpea dal
A sweet sour delicacy made with yogurt, cardamom, saffron, chironji and others.
Steam rice rolls, filled with either sweetened coconut scrapping or yellow gram
4. Rajgira Laddoo
Balls made with Rajgira grain
5. Gur Nariyal Wadi
Dessert made with coconut scrapings and jaggery
6. Sabudana Kheer
Porridge made with pearl tapioca
Multigrain pancake, served with yogurt
Deep fried triangle pastry filled with carrot, potato, peas and others
Top Activities to Enjoy during Ganesh Chaturthi
a) Take part in rituals, processions, visit pandals and enjoy delicacies
b) Enjoy music, dance and drama performances, praising the mythologies revolving around Lord Ganesh.
c) Try to get invited by any locals for a home feast. It would be grander than any restaurant meal.
d) Visit artisan colonies of Mumbai to watch idols being created.
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