Ganesh Chaturti

Ganesha, the son of Maheshwara(Shiva) and Parvati is a favourite god with all sections of the Hindu population. He symbolises Hinduism's basic concept of OM. He is therefore called Omkaramurthi. Ganapathi temples of various types and sizes are found everywhere-- in street corners, under pipal trees, and also in the temples of other dieties.

Before performing pujas for other gods, Ganapathi puja is performed to invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha so that the whole puja is performed without obstruction. Even in our day-to-day life, whenever we write a letter or document, we pray to Lord Ganesha and even put a mark at the top centre of the paper to invoke His blessings.

During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, clay idols of Ganesha are specially prepared and most families in Maharashtra instal an idol in their homes for periods varyig from two days to eleven days. Every morning and evening, prayers(Aarti) are performed and hymns are sung. The singing of hymns is a popular event especially for children. The hymns are sung to the clanging of small gongs(jhanjar), the sounds of which reverberate throughout the day. But the main puja is performed during the forenoon.

Ganesha relishes all types of food preparations like cooked plain rice, puddings and idlies. However, Ganesha's favourite food is modak. A picture or idol of Shri Ganesha will be incomplete if there is no modhakam on one of his four hands or on Hs tusk. Hence He is known by the adjective modak hasta. There is no fasting on annual Ganesh Chaturthi day. On the contrary, the quantity of food items as naivedyam will be far more than even a regular food.

On the concluding day of the celebrations, the idols are taken in grand procession and immersed in the river or ocean or pond. This is called Visarjanam. As this is generally peak rainy season in the North, all lakes and rivers normally have sufficient water to absorb any number of idols. During the immersion ceremony, huge crowds move in a procession carrying idols of Ganesha towards the places of immersion. These processions which take place with great fanfare, begin in the afternoon and continue till the late hours of the night. People march in thousands, loudly chaanting the slogan in Marathi---------

"Ganapathy bappa maurya Pudcha varsha lavkar ya"