Ganesha Chaturthi

Ganesha Chaturthi, the great Ganesha festival, also known as 'Vinayak Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chavithi' is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) and the grandest and most elaborate of them, especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of 'Ananta Chaturdashi'.

Ganesh Chaturthi Verse:

Normally, Ganesha Chaturthi is the worship of god Ganesh on the fourth day of every month which is mentioned in the title of the festivals. How Lord Ganesha should be worshipped on the day is described in the following verse,

        r@tambarQarao BaU%vaa catuqyaa-maca-yao%tu ya: È
ekkalaM iWkalaM vaa inayatao inayataSana: ÈÈ (Sk. P. VII 1. 38.54)
Raktambaradharo bhutva chaturthyamarchayettu yah ekakalam dvikalam va niyato niyatashnah

(One should worship Ganesha wearing red garment on bright fourth day, once or twice by taking limited meals.)

Lord Ganesh

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is accorded a prime status. He is worshiped in the beginning of all important occasions.

ivavaahao%savaya&oYau pUva-maaraiQatao Bavaot\ È (Sk. P. III 2. 12.39 ab)
Vivahotsavayadnyeshu purvamaradho bhavet

(During all marriages, festivals and sacrifices, Ganesha is the first to be first propitiated.)

He is also known as the master of all academic subjects, all the sixty-four arts and crafts. It is said that the great epic Mahabharata is narrated by Sage Vyasa to Ganesh and he wrote it.

In Vedic literature, he is depicted as a leader of troops (Gana – troops & Isha – lord or leader). During Purana period, Lord Ganesh became a famous and significant deity. Various stories from the different Puranas give detailed information about Ganesh like he is the son of Parvati and Shiva, has elephant head, etc.

Many stories are narrated for the various epithets of Ganesh such as Vakratunda (with truncated mouth), ekadanta (who have single tooth), gajavaktra (who have elephant head), vighnarajendra (who is king of obstacles as destroyer), etc. He was accorded a foremost place during all the auspicious occasions in Puranic mythology too. Hence, it is the custom to worship Lord Ganesh at the beginning of every auspicious work undertaken, praying to him to remove all obstacles which may come in the way and to grant us success. Following verse describes these above-mentioned practices.

vaËtuND mahakaya saUya-kaoTIsamap`Ba È
inaiva-GnaM kuÉ mao dova SauBakayaa-qa- isawyao ÈÈ
Vakratunda mahakaya suryakotisamaprabha nirvighnam kuru me deva shubhakaryartha siddhaye

(The Lord with the curved trunk and a mighty body, who has the luster of a million suns, I pray to thee Oh Lord, to remove the obstacles from all the actions I intend to perform.)

Here sarvakaryarthasiddhaye also has pathabheda (alternative) for Shubhakaryarthasiddhaye.

It is said that Brahma prayed to him before starting the world’s creation, Vishnu worshiped him before vanquishing the mighty demon king Bali, Shiva before conquering the demon Tripura, Durga before the annihilation of Mahishasura, Sheshanaga before carrying the earth on his head and Kamadeva before conquering the universe.  It will be interesting to note that according to scriptures not only humans but even various divinities worshipped Ganesh on different occasions.

When Ganesh Utsav is celebrated?

As mentioned above every Chaturthi is celebrated in honor of lord Ganesh, but the Chaturthi in the month of Bhadrapada is essential and significant. It is known as Ganesh Chaturthi which is celebrated on the 4th day in the first half of the Bhadrapada month which falls around in the month of August or September according to Gregorian calendar.

Meaning of the  name "Ganesh Chaurthi"  

The word Chaturthi in the title is a Sanskrit word. It is feminine ordinal which gives the meaning as fourth day. On this day,  Lord Ganesh is worshiped hence this day is known as Ganesha Chaturthi. Varada Chaturthi and Shiva are synonyms of the festival. If the day of worship comes on Sunday or Tuesday; it is considered as very auspicious and fruitful.

How is it celebrated?

        Sau@lacatuqyaa-Misaiwivanaayakva`tM... È (Dharmasindhu 107. 8)

Shuklachaturthyam siddhivinayakavratam…

On the day of Ganesha Chaturthi a colourful clay idol of Ganesh should be worshiped considering it as Siddhivinayaka. Siddhivinayaka means one who fulfills all the desires.

This idol should be adorned with different materials in twenty-one number as part of the worship. especially 12 modaka (one type of eatable), 21 Durva (type of grass) are offered to Ganesh. Purana text gives detailed account of the worshipping pattern of Siddhivinayaka. This ritual account is also mentioned in the Nibandha Literature.

t~ maRNmayaaidmaUtaO- p`aNap`itYzapUva-kM ivanaayakM YaaoDSaaopcaarO: saMpUjyaOkmaaodkona naOvaoVM d%vaa sagaMQaa ekivaMSait dUvaa- gaRih%vaa ... (Dharmasindhu 108. 6)

Tatra mrunmayadimurtou pranapratishthapurvakam vinayakam shodashopacharaih sampujya modakena naivedyam datva sagandha ekavinshati durva gruhitva …..

(Then one clay idol of Ganesha should be worshiped and installed with pranapratishtha rituals; and we should offer one modaka and twenty one durva)

Mainly this festival is celebrated for one and half day. Alternatively some people celebrate it for five or seven or nine or ten days. On the last day, a fond farewell is given to Ganesh in the water sources such as river or sea or lake or well only after performing the uttarapuja (special worship of farewell). On the next day of Ganesha Chaturti, which is also known as Rushipanchami, a special offering of Kheer (sweet) is offered to the mouse, the vehicle of Ganesh.

Legend of the festival Ganesh Chaturthi

A story in Ganesh Purana tells the reason and practicing method of the festival. There was a Kshatriya who was disgusted due to his poverty. Hence forsaking everything he went to a forest. There he met sage Soubhari who advised him to perform Ganesh worship. Due to the worship he obtained wealth. Due to his virtues in the next birth, he became sage Kardama. (Ganesh Purana Upa. 52 – 53).

Special Custom and legend behind it

There is a custom of not looking at the moon on the day of Ganesha Chaturthi. Legend from Purana tells – once lord Ganesh started on his journey by riding on his vehicle mushaka (mouse). On the way, the mouse slept and Ganesh fell down. Seeing this, Chandra (moon) laughed. Ganesh became so angry and cursed him saying that from ‘this day onwards your glory will decrease and nobody will look at you. Then moon asked for apology out of repentance. Then Ganesh mitigated his curse as ‘only on the day of Ganesha Chaturthi of Bhadrapada month, the one who will look at you will have an accusation of theft.

To highlight the custom of not seeing moon on the festival day, another story is narrated by the Puranakaras.– Surya gifted the syamantaka gem to Satrajita for his penance. That gem used to give 100 gram gold per day. He kept it in his home sanctum and used to worship it daily. Krishna asked for that gem for the welfare of his subjects but Satrajita refused to give. After some days, Satrajita’s brother wore it around his neck and went for hunting. There the gem was taken way by a tiger after killing him. Then the gem was taken away by Jambavanta by killing the tiger and he finally gave it to his daughter.  Here Satrajita blamed Krishna for the theft of syamantaka bead. Then Krishna found and fought with Jambavanta and received that bead along with his daughter Jambavanti as wife. Even Satrajita also refused to take that bead back out of shame and gifted his daughter Satyabhama to Krishna. This way Krishna received the bead and married both Jambavanti and Satyabhama. At the end Krishna said, I saw a reflection of moon in the mud water on the day of Ganesha Chaturthi. This accusation of theft is the result of that.

Dharmasindhu has given the option of reciting the verse of Vishnu Purana which is part of above story.

isaMh: p`saonamavaQaIi%saMhao jaaMbavata ht: È
saukumaark maa raodIstva *yaoYa: syamaMtk: ÈÈ (Dharmasindhu 107. 5)
Sinhah prasenamavadhitsinho jambavata hatah sukumaraka ma rodistava hyeshah syamantakah

In coastal region of Maharashtra there is a folk tradition for removing this type of blame. That is, the one who looks at the moon on this day should trouble his neighbors. As a result, if the neighbors abuse back, then it is considered that the person is free from the accusation of theft.

Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra

The festival of Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated allover India with great devotion and enthusiasm. But entire Maharashtra celebrates this festival in the honor of their most dear God ‘Lord Ganesh with great pleasure and excitement. Ganesha Chatuithi celebration is unique and mind blowing in Maharashtra. It is also famous as the Maharashtrain trademark in the world.

Locally it is also said that Ganesh is the aradhya daivata (the tutelary deity) of Maharashtra. In Coastal region, people visit each other’s place for arati (singing of devotional songs). Some people of Maharashtra worship Ganesh with goddess Gauri who is supposed to be the mother or sister or wife in folk tradition. It is believed that on the third day of the festival she arrives for meeting Ganesh and these two deities are worshipped for the next three days together and immersed on the fifth day.

History of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in Maharashtra very enthusiastically. Ganesh was the family deity of Peshavas who were the Bramhin rulers of Maharashtra. They started celebrating this festival publically for their subjects. Leading freedom fighter, Lokamanya Bala Gangadhara Tilaka used the idea of celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi publicly for the freedom struggle. As this was the sensitivity of society, he promoted the idea of celebrating festival publically in the each corner of Maharashtra. Through this celebrated he promoted the science and knowledge through the performance of public lectures, ballad, religious narration, storytelling. Through the programs, he enhanced public awareness about Freedom struggle.

Contemporary festival celebration in Maharashtra - Even today people celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi with very great happiness. It is celebrated on two levels; personal and public.  All the people in Maharashtra visit both types of celebration.  It is believed that some of the Ganesh idols fulfill the desires such as famous ‘Ganesh idol from Lalbag’ at Mumbai. All the Ganesh temples in Maharashtra celebrate this festival and people visit with devotion shrines like Siddhivinayaka temple at Dadar, Mumbai; Ashtavinayaka temples in various places of Maharashtra; Shrimant Dagadushetha and Sarasabaga temples in Pune. The farewell celebrations of Ganesh idol is performed in a traditional way. These are unique in Pune, Kolhapur, Nasik and Nagpur.

Religious practices in other parts of India

In south India also people celebrate this festival. In the Manakul Vinayakar temple at Pondicherry, this temple festival is known as annual Brahmotsava which is regularly celebrated by thousands of devotees for ten days. During the festival, the image of Vinayaka is tastefully decorated and taken out every night in temple car or horse or palanquin or elephant, to the accompaniment of instrumental music and display of fireworks. The small Rajagopuram of the temple has beautiful images showing the marriage of Ganesh with Siddhi and Buddhi, the daughters of Brahma.

A grand festival is also celebrated in the temple of Ganesh at Madhurpur in Kerala.  A colossal idol is installed in this temple. There is local legend – a sickle struck in a stone image of Ganesh by a Harijana (low caste) girl namely Madhura while harvesting. The sliced part was pasted with sandal and installed at that time there and a temple was built at a  later period.

Social Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi

The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is a traditional ritual mentioned in scriptures. It was in practice at every home. But Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak started its celebration publically for creating awareness. Through the festival, he succeeded in gathering the masses and performed programs for invoking independence. Even today, it is still celebrated as a social event for creating awareness on various current issues.

How to do Pooja of Lord Ganesha on Vinayaka Chaturthi

Hindu Rituals involve the Pancha/Five Upacharas/offerings. They are namely;

Gandham (Fragrance) in the form of white or red Sandalwood paste,

Dhupam (Lighting of Incense Sticks),

Deepam (Lighting of Oil or ghee Lamps)

Naivedyam (Sanctified Offerings of fruits, sweetmeats etc.) and Modak and Motichoor Ladoos

Pushpam (Pushpa-Flowers). The Hibiscus or the Shoe flower is a favorite of the Lord. Dhurva Grass malas are also quite popular.

Coconut for Vinayaka Chaturthi

Before beginning any pooja, these materials should be kept handy. Take a bath, cleanse yourself and then stand with folded hands in front of the deity and offer all the above. Wet whole coconut (peeled off the exterior husk) but with a small stalk of husk on the top symbolizes the Brahmin or purest offering to the Lord. Breaking of this coconut or the act of “Chadur Thenga” means that we smash our egos in front of the Lord and submit our soft white inner self at his feet.

What items are favorites of the Lord:

Modak for Ganesh Chaturthi-Vinayakar Chavithi

Modak: Lord Ganesha has a special liking for the sweet dumplings- Modak/Kozhukattai and Laddoo. Ganesha’s mother Parvati made tasty modaks for Her son, hence he is especially fond of them.

Durva: (Three blade grass, Trefoil) is also offered to Ganesh. There are many interesting facts relating to why Durva is offered. Once Ganesha destroyed a demon called ‘Analan‘, by swallowing him. The demon went inside and burnt the 14 worlds situated inside Ganesha, thus causing enormous heat. Ganesha searched for Durva Grass and wore it as a garland to nullify the heat inside. Durva is a substance known to create heat and by the principles of two negatives make things positive, the heat was quenched. Durva/Dhurva Grass is therefore used as a supreme offering in Ganesha Puja. Make a dhurva garland by combining several dhurvas together and tying them in a mala/garland for the Lord.

Shoe flower/Hibiscus: First of all, the red color of the flower is a personal favorite of the Lord and then the Hibiscus-Shoe flower-Red in color is Ganesha’s favorite

5 petals of the Hibiscus denotes the warding off of negative energy and welcoming positive energy into the Universe. On a more practical level, it is the seasonal flower of the Bhadrapad month of the monsoons, hence our ancients have advocated this particular flower. Especially the color red is highly auspicious.

Rules to pluck flowers and offer to the Lord:

Always pluck flowers only after your bath.

Never pick flowers fallen on the ground (except Parijat).

Do not offer Nirmalya (reused flowers), flowers that have already been offered by others.

Don't throw/fling flowers on the idol. Offer them with both your open palms at his feet.

What it the Angaaraka Ganesh Chathurthi ?

The fourth thithi of each moon phase is known as Chathurthi. Chathur = four. 24 to 25 Chathurthis occur each year. When the Chathurthi thithi occurs on a Tuesday, it’s known as Angaaraka Chathurthi in recognition of Sri Angaaraka, the Vaara(weekly- Mars-Chevvaai-Mangal) devata for Tuesday who performed special pooja for Lord Ganesh.

Ganesh Aarti

Jai Ganesh Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh deva

Mata jaki Parvati, Pita Mahadeva.

Ek dant dayavant, char bhuja dhari

Mathe sindur sohai, muse ki savari, Jai

Ganesh...

Andhan ko ankh det, kodhin ko kaya

Banjhan ko putra det, nirdhan ko maya, Jai

Ganesh....

Pan chadhe, phul chadhe, aur chadhe meva

Ladduan ka bhog lage, saht kare seva, ,Jai

Ganesh....

Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh deva,

Mata jaki Parvati, Pita Mahadeva

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