Lalbaugcha Raja (Photo Credit: lalbaugcharaja.com/)
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha. On September 2 this year, Lord Ganesha will visit the abode of his devotees. Bappa will bless all the devotees before taking leave on September 12, but only with a promise to return the next year. Ganpati Bappa Morya! This is the main chant which echo all around during Ganpati festival. It is worth mentioning here that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence.
History and significance of Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi became a major social and public event with sponsorship of Shivaji following the Mughal-Maratha wars and again in the 19th century when freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak promoted it, championing it as a means to oppose the colonial British government ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation of 1892. However, it is unclear as to when Ganesh Chaturthi actually started.
There isn’t any mention of Ganesha Chaturthi in Vedic texts. However, Ganesh Chaturthi has been mentioned in post-Vedic texts like the Grhya Sutras and thereafter ancient Sanskrit texts inlcuding Vajasaneyi Samhita, the Yajnavalkya Smriti and the Mahabharata.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati created Ganesha from the dirt on her body, and told him to guard the door while she was having a bath. Goddess Parvati created Ganesha using such strength that no God could face him at war. Later, Lord Shiva returned to their residence and when Ganesha stopped him from entering, an angry Lord Shiva cut off his head in the war between the two. To calm Parvati's anger, Lord Shiva along with the other Gods fixed the head of a baby elephant on Ganesha's trunk. Also, Lord Shiva declared that Ganesha will be the only deity who would be worshipped ahead of any other God, and that he would always be worshipped as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom and strength.
Where & How Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated
The festival is celebrated in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Telengana, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. It is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Outside India, it’s widely celebrated in Nepal’s Terai region, and by Hindus in the UK, US and Mauritius among other countries.
Day before Bappa’s arrival, homes are cleaned and marquees erected at street corners to house the idols of the Lord and elaborate arrangements are made for lighting, decoration, mirrors and flowers.
Worship of Lord Ganesha begins with the priest chanting mantras and bathing the deity with sandalwood paste and kumkum.As per Vinayakchavithi Blogspot, here’s the list of items needed for the Ganesh Puja:
Akshata – prepared by mixing rice with wet turmeric, saffron and sandalwood paste), Glass, udhdharani, plate, Mango leaves, Water, Two pieces of red cloth, Lamps and oil or ghee for the lamp and wicks, Incense sticks, Camphor, Plate to light camphor, Fruits especially bananas, Flowers, Saffron, Turmeric, Sandal wood paste, Betel leaves, nuts, Pedestal and Modakams.
Here’s how to perform Ganesh puja
Firstly, bring the idol of lord Ganesha to your home. Before the idol is brought you need to keep the following things ready – joss sticks, Aggarbatti and Dhoop plate with earthen lamps, a cloth to cover the Ganesh idol, betel nuts (supari), betel leaf (paan leaf), another piece of cloth for Sandli (made of sandalwood, used for carrying the lord), as per Zee news.
The ritual of Ganesh Chaturthi puja starts with cleaning the entire house before bringing the idol. The puja starts with lighting the joss sticks and incense (Aggarbatti and Dhoop) which should be placed in an Aarti thali. Now, the betel leaf with a supari must be placed in front of the sandli. All the family members performing puja should chant ‘Om Gan Ganpatiye Namah’ while doing aarthi.
Dakshina should be given to a priest if he is performing puja. Those who bring in the ‘Ganesh’ idol home before chaturthi, should cover the face of the idol. The cloth should be taken off only on the day ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ puja is performed during the installment of the idol. Now ask of one of the family members to bring a bowl of rice to shower it on the idol before bringing it inside. Before placing the Ganesh idol, one is advised to put some uncooked rice on it a betel nut, turmeric, red coloured sacred powder, as per Zee News.
After placing the Ganesha idol at home —there are certain things to be done. For instance, red flowers, druva grass blades, modak (jaggery filled sweet), coconut, red chandan (sandalwood paste), incense and aggarbattis to serve the idol. Everyone in the family should take bath before sitting for puja. The idol should be placed on a clean, raised platform. Read the mantras being chanted for invoking Lord Ganesha. The practice of ‘Pran-Pratishtha’ (infusing life in idol) is one of the primary steps in this puja. It is advised that a specialised pandit should be invited to chant the holy mantras.
After pran-pratishtha, the next step is that aarti and lighting of the lamps and aggarbattis. Then shhodashopachara, which are 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesh, should be performed. After this, offer 21 blades of druva grass, 21 modakas and some red flowers to Ganpati.
Put the red Sandalwood tilak on the forehead of the idol. Then break a coconut which is placed right in front of the Lord’s idol. Try to recite the 108 salutations dedicated to Ganesh or read the Ganesh Upanishad.
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.