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Like every Hindu festival, customs are attached to the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi too that are religiously followed by the people celebrating this popular festival.

Ganesh Chaturthi Customs

Ganesh Chaturthi, birthday of Lord Ganesha, is one of the popular Hindu festivals and falls on 4th of the fortnight of Bhadrapada. This festival is observed throughout India, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Elephant-headed Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is the god of wisdom, knowledge and prosperity. Ganesh Chaturthi being the most important of all Maharashtrian festivals is celebrated with splendour and zeal. The festival is celebrated from 5-10 days depending upon the family customs. All these days, puja and aarti are performed, and the devotees are offered modak (a sweet) in the form of prasad (holy offering). Many cultural activities are held during these days of festivities that add on to the enthusiasm of people. On the tenth and last day, people submerge the idols of the Lord in water, with a request to return sooner next year and a faith that he will take their every distress with him while going.

Although the festival lasts for ten days, the arrangements begin with the preparations of idols two to three months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi. These clay idols are huge and are carved by skilled craftsmen, depicting Ganapati in various poses. Then few days before the puja day, people start to clean their houses, or may be get their homes white-washed. Ganesh Mandap or Ganesh Pandal is decorated with flowers and leaves of coconut or banana, several days before the beginning of the festivities. After the cleaning and decking up of the place, the place is prepared for establishment of idol of Lord Ganesha.

People take bath early in the morning on the day of Ganapati puja; they wear new clothes and perform the puja with all the rituals. Idols of Ganesha are bought from the shops and are taken to the homes, temples or pandals with the faces of covered with a saffron cloth. Chanting of prayers in the praise of the Lord continues all the way. These days it is advised to buy eco-friendly idols of Lord Ganesha. These idols of Lord Ganesha are then placed at the podium, at a place where puja is held. Ganapati's idols is then beautified with floral garlands and sandalwood paste and A kalash containing holy water or rice is then placed before the Lord's statue, it is known as Purna Kumbha. After this, the prayers are performed to invoke the presence of Lord in the idol by the priest. This ritual is called Pranpratishhtha. Chanting of mantras and hymns takes place while the custom of pranpratishhtha is completed.

After that, a 16-fold praying procedure, Shodashopachara is followed: Aavaahana, Aasana, Paadya, Arghya, Aachamana, Madhuparka, Snaana, Vastra, Gandha, Pushpa, Dhoopa, Deepa, Naivedya, Taamblooa, Aarati, and Mantrapushpa.
  • Aavaahana means 'to invite'.
  • Aasana means offering our guest the seat. This is called as Aasana Samarpana.
  • Paadya is to wash the feet of the idol of Lord Ganesha.
  • Arghya means to wash off the hands.
  • Aachamana is about taking three gulps of water to smoothen the speech faculty.
  • Madhuparka means offering to the idol of Lord Ganesha something to drink.
  • Snaana means bathing the idol with milk, curd or ghee.
  • Vastra or Upaveeta is about offering new clothes to the idol of Lord Ganesha.
  • Gandha is application of sandalwood paste on the forehead as per tradition.
  • Pushpa means to offer flowers to the Lord Ganesha.
  • Dhoopa means fragrant smoke by burning of herbs, considered good for health.
  • Deepa means light. It's about acknowledging Lord Ganesha in the form of light.
  • Naivedya is a practice of offering different varieties of dishes to Lord Ganesha.
  • Taamblooa is the chewing of betel leaf with other herbs, considered to be good for health.
  • Aarati means showing a big flame of camphor lit diya to Lord Ganesha.
  • Mantrapushpa is about chanting the mantras and going round (pradakshina) to imply that deity is present in every direction.
When the Shodashopachara is completed, aarti with 108 names of Lord Ganesha is recited along with Ganesh mantras. This aarti admiring the Lord is performed twice a day. Incense sticks are shown to the god and coconuts are offered.

Ganesh Chaturthi is generally celebrated for 10 days from Bhadrapada Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi. The festival marks its end on Chaturdashi, when the idols of the lord from homes, temples and pandals are taken with a royal procession for immersion with aloud chants of of "Ganapati Bappa Maurya" or "Ganesh Maharaj Ki Jai", with strong belief that Lord Ganesha would take their sorrows with him while going and earnestly requesting the Lord to return again soon next year.