India is gearing up for 10-day long Ganesh Chaturthi beginning Friday, August 29 with road-side pandals coming up in every of all metros and towns across the country, heralding the festive season of the year as performing puja to Ganesh is mandatory for all Hindu festivals and functions.
The festival, which is mainly observed in Maharashtra, Gujarat and South India, begins tomorrow 29 August and ends on Chaturdasi, 8 September, as per the Hindu calendar. With youngsters and elders chanting ‘Ganapati bappa moriya’, the streets usually see festive mood reflecting in all the shops and roads.
Known as Vinayaka Chavithi in the south, it marks the birth of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god and son Goddess Parvati.The legend goes that one day Parvati was at home on Mount Kailash, preparing for a bath. She did not want to be disturbed but there was no one to guard the door. So taking the turmeric paste used for bathing, she created a boy and infused life into him. Parvati declared him as her own son and then asked the boy to guard the door and not to allow anyone to enter the house while she was taking bath.
But when Shiva came home and tried to enter, the boy told him he cannot enter his house. The boy and Shiva then had an argument, which eventually infuriated the god. Shiva cut off the boy’s head with his trishul, killing him instantly. But when Parvati came to know about this, she became so enraged that she decided to destroy the entire universe.
Lord Brahma, the creator, tried to reason with Parvati but she insisted that to reconsider the decision, Shiva should bring back the boy to life and he should be worshipped like other gods. Shiva agreed to Parvati’s conditions but he needed a new head to bring the boy back to life. He asked Brahma and the other gods to bring back the head of the first creature he crosses with its head facing North. They brought back the head of a mighty elephant, which Shiva placed on the boy’s body and brought him back to life. The boy was named Ganesh. Shiva declared him as own son and gave him the status of gods.
Pandals (tents) are set up in almost every locality for 10 days to celebrate the festival on a grand note. Prior to the festival, houses are cleaned and special food, including delicious sweets, are prepared for the occasion, especially in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
On the first day, people bring in clay models of Lord Ganesh and place it in their homes and pandals. For 10 days, special prayers, songs and devotional chants air the surroundings and the Ganesh idol will be worshipped. On the 11th day, the idol will be immersed in a river or sea, which is called Visarjan, bring an end to the festival but paving the way for year-long festivals celebrated by Hindus.