One of the most worshiped and revered deity in Hindu pantheon is Ganesha, who is known as Vinayaka or Ganapati. A popular Hindu festival celebrated all over the world is Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganapati is renowned as the God of wisdom and beginnings. This elephant-headed deity is noted as the remover of every obstacle. A popular belief is that during this festival, Ganesha bestows devotees with his presence. This festival has been a public event since the era of Shivaji in early seventeenth century. Celebrations include installation of clay models and images of Vinayaka in temporary shrines or pandals. Devotees worship lifelike idols for ten days with immense splendor.
Idol and its significance
Traditional stories state that Lord Ganesha was the son of Goddess Parvati, who is Lord Shiva’s consort. Parvati breathed life into Vinayaka by using sandalwood paste. Legends elaborate that Ganpati refused entry to Lord Shiva inside the premises where Parvati was staying. This infuriated Shiva and what followed was a battle between Ganapati and Shiva’s followers. Ganesha defeated every Ganas of Shiva as he is Shakti’s incarnation. Even after Saptarshis and Narada had failed to appease the child, Lord Indra with his army waged war against Ganapati, who were promptly defeated. This further angered Shiva, who in a fit of rage, severed Ganesha’s head. However, this angered Parvati and to appease her, Shiva assured that Ganesha will be alive. The devas found a dead elephant’s head that was then fixed on Ganapati’s body. Shiva announced that the child would be known as Ganesha, which means Lord of Ganas.
Days of celebration
Vinayaka Chaturthi is ideally observed in month of Bhaadrapada, according to the Hindu calendar. It commences on the fourth day or Shukla Chaturthi, during the period of the waxing moon. The date falls between months of August and September. Celebration lasts for almost ten days and ends on Anant Chaturdashi or fourteenth day, during the time of waxing moon. This grand and elaborate occasion are celebrated with immense joy throughout India. It is immensely popular in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana. Festivities also take place in Western and Southern India.