Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated all across India with huge pomp and show. The festival marks the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, the younger son of Lord Shiva. From the time of Chalukya dynasties to Shivaji Maharaj, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi has been celebrated to promote unity and nationalism.
In the year 1857, it was crucial for the freedom fighters to channelise the efforts for freedom and make it a reckoning force against imperialist rulers. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the staunch nationalist was one of the greatest leaders of 1857-rebellion. Born on July 23, 1856 in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri, Bal Gangadhar Tilak is famously known as ‘Father of Indian unrest’.
Sensing the need to unite Indians, he thought of giving Ganesh Chaturthi a nationalistic fervour. He deciphered that nothing can infuse more unity than giving Indians a common idol i.e. Lord Ganesha. Tilak knew that Lord Ganesha is equally worshipped by upper castes and lower castes and thus, Ganesh Chaturthi bridged the gap between the divided Indian population.
Tilak totally transformed the way Ganesh Chaturthi had been celebrated in the country. The seasoned thinker in Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak epitomised the festival as a display of nationalism.
Moreover, this year, September 2 marks the beginning of Ganesh Chaturthi, the day on which Lord Ganesha will visit the abode of his devotees. With a promise to return the next year, Bappa will bless all the devotees before taking leave on September 12.
The festival is majorly celebrated in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Telengana, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. It is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. This festival is also popular outside India as it is celebrated in the UK, US and Mauritius among other countries.
It is to be noted that Ganesh Chaturthi lasts for 10 days and ends on Ananta Chaturdashi with the immersion of idols in local water bodies. Over one lakh idols are immersed annually in Mumbai alone. Mumbai's Lalbaugcha Raja has the longest immersion procession. The immersion procession of Lalbaugcha Raja begins at around 10 am and ends the next morning.