A spiritual guide to Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganeshotsav, Ganpati festival—call it what you will, it’s always been one of the most fun and exciting festivals in India. The atmosphere transforms into one of zeal and camaraderie, and people celebrate this festival with full gusto. Ganeshotsav, as a public festival, was started in Maharashtra by erstwhile Nationalist leader Lokmanya Tilak. This festival since then has not ceased to be an event that brings people together and create a celebratory ambience.
The big celebration
Dedicated to Lord Ganesha (or Ganpati Bappa as the kids like to call him) Ganeshotsav lasts for 10 fun-filled days. During these 10 days, many people in India and even abroad bring clay idols of Ganpati home and decorate their homes with lights, flowers and coloured confetti. Bigger groups, for instance residential complex groups bring a larger Ganpati idol meant for the entire complex. Ganpati idols come in all shapes and sizes; even baby Ganeshas that look cute as buttons! During the auspicious days of Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganesha is pampered and treated to sweets, especially 21 steamed modaks, which are supposed to be his favourite. Devotional songs are sung to the accompaniment of cymbals and the atmosphere fills up with the fragrance of incense sticks.
People dress up in their best clothes and school-going kids get a long vacation to fully enjoy this grand festival. Ganesha is worshipped everyday for these 10 days and you can hear the chorus of “Ganpati Bappa Morya!” everywhere. One of the most popular Ganeshas during this festival is ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’, supposed to be the tallest, most mighty looking Ganpati in all of Maharashtra. Devotes line up in the wee hours of the morning outside the temple in Lalbaug to get a glimpse of the imposing idol.
The teary-eyed goodbyes…
With heavy hearts, at the end of the 10 days, the Ganesha idols are immersed into the sea and cries of “Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya!” are heard. The immersion in itself is a massive event. Nowadays, people use artificial ponds to immerse the idols so as to not pollute the larger water bodies. When this gorgeous festival gets over, the days really feel dull, until Ganesha comes back to town the next year! Celebrated by one and all, and every religion, Ganesh Chaturthi is truly a festival of the people, by the people and for the people.