Ganesh Chaturthi

Posted on September 1, 2011

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Hi,

I wish you all a very happy and pleasant “Ganesh Chaturthi”. May the lord bless us all.

I am writing this note to highlight the way we celebrate the festival and the importance of it.

First of all, I would like to give a brief history of the festival. Ganesh chaturthi as a public event was initiated by our great freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak (Bal Gangadhar Tilak) in 1890s. Tilak encouraged installation of large public images of  Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, sea, or other pools of water all public  images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi. He also popularized the social events like intellectual discussions, poetry reciting, drama, folk dances during the  celebrations. The main objective of Tilak to make this as a public event was to bridge the gap between castes. Caste system was much more prevalent during those days than it is now. Also, another reason for the festival was to unite people and to give them a sense of nationalism to fight against the colonial british rule.

The celebration starts from the chaturthi (4th day from full moon) of the hindu month of bhadrapad. The immersion takes place of chaturdashi (14th day from full moon) in the same month. There is also a concept of Sarwajani Ganpati (Public Ganpati) and also families have their own ganpatis usually at the house of the eldest brother. The idol is installed a day prior to chaturthi and it is brought in with much pomp and joy.

The first worship is performed on the next day, ie. the chaturthi. The entire extended family is suppose to be present early in the morning. The members of the family are usually dressed in traditional Indian dress. A special set of artis are performed. We at our house perform arti in marathi language. The arti starts off with “Sukha Karta Dukha Harta…” (Happiness giver and sorrow taker….). The full arti can be found of youtube here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceit9u21BGE. Few of the artis which are sung are —

1. Jaydevi Jay Mahalaxmi Aarti

2. Shendur Lal Chadhayo

3. Vittala Bhajan

4. Arti

5. Ghalin Lotangan

These artis are performed every day from chaturthi until the chaturdashi. Once in the afternoon before lunch and once in the evening before the dinner. The afternoon arti is usually performed by members of the family. However, the arti is the evening is a group arti. Meaning, people from our neighboorhood come over to our house and similarly we go to their houses for the artis. So, on an average evening during the festival, it is not unusual to sing the arti several 10s of times. I remember, while I was a child, I used to be more than excited to sing the artis  repeatedly over and over again. It gave and still gives a sense of spirituality and feels so serene.

The arti is followed by a traditional meal. This meal is usually had by sitting on the floor and on a banana leaf. The essentials of this meal include a modak, rice served in a special fasion (see the pic), batatya chi bhaji (vegetable of potato) and other traditional marathi preparations. The used banana plates are disposed off by feeding it to cows.

While browsing on the internet, today, I also came across the symbolization of lord ganesh. It has been nicely  depicted in the picture below.


On day 3 of the festival, in comes goddess gauri. She is considered the sister of lord ganesha. From day 3 onwards until day 5 she is worshiped as well. Day 5 is usually the day of immersion of lord ganesh and godess gauri for most of the family ganapatis. However, these day working class people have also come up with the concept of ganapati for 1 and a half day. Almost all of the public ganapatis are immersed into the sea on the chaturdashi.

Public ganapatis are a big big big celebrations in Mumbai. There are 1000s of ganapatis, it is quite common to find one every few 100 meters. Of them most popular ones include “Lalbagh cha Raja” (King of Lalbagh). This ganapati idol is usually as tall as 30 feet. It is know to get presents worth crores of rupees from the devotees. It is also said that, all those who visit this very ganapati gets his wished as reality. One of the friend has told me that, this year ‘lalbagh cha raja’ is made on the theme of lokpal. We all hope and make a wish to the lord to make our country, India, a corruption free country.

The day of immersion is a big time celebration in Mumbai. It is a celebration to say farewell to our beloved lord. People in huge numbers on the choupati (beaches in marathi).  Huge procession going all over the city, with slogans — “ganpati bappa morya, pudcha varshi lavkar ya (praise to lord ganapati, come early next year)“,  “ek don teen char, ganpati cha jai jai kar (one two three four, hail to ganapati)“. One can see the video for one of the ganapati immersions here.

It is a thing to  see, but sadly ever since LNMIIT, I have not been able to have a glimpse of this celebration at my home.

Anyway, I hope this short article gave an insite into the celebration.

Ganapati Bappa Morya………..

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