New Delhi: Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated annually to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha, the God of new beginnings and a fresh start. The festival falls in the month of Bhadra, according to the Hindu calendar and in August/September according to the Gregorian calendar.
Legend tells the tale of Goddess Parvati who made baby Ganesha using sandalwood paste and asked him to guard the entrance while she took a bath. When Lord Shiva wanted to enter, Ganesha would not even allow him to pass through. Lord Shiva, enraged by this, severed the child’s head. When Goddess Parvati realised what had happened, she was overwhelmed and heartbroken. This is when Lord Shiva promised that he would bring baby Ganesha back to life. He went on to instruct his followers (ganas) to search for the head of the first living creature they could find to replace on Ganesha’s body. However, the ganas could only find a baby elephant’s head. That is how Lord Ganesha came back to life with the head of an elephant. Lord Shiva named him the leader of the ganas, or Ganapati.
Originally, Ganesh Chaturthi is known to be celebrated in a large way in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, but the festival and festivities have spread far and wide, with devotees celebrating in other parts of the country with equal fervour.
The festival begins with Pranapratishhtha, which consists of the chanting of mantras by a priest. Offerings which are known to be loved by Lord Ganesha are placed infront of his idol. These include modak, shrikhand, payasam, coconut rice, motichoor laddoo and other sweets.
On the tenth day, Lord Ganesha’s statue is immersed in water, known as Ganpati Visarjan.