Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by Hindus all over India, as the birthday of the god of wisdom, knowledge and prosperity, Lord Ganesha. The celebrations continue from five to ten days, depending upon family traditions. It is believed that praying to Lord Ganesha leads to fulfilment of wishes and desires. His blessing removes all the obstacles from life. Although it is not known when this festival was first celebrated, but it is alleged to have been celebrated in Pune initially. Celebrations were started during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji to promote nationalism and give a feeling of unity. Ganapati is the son of Shiva and Parvati; various fables are attached to his birth. This elephant-headed god with Mooshak (rat) as his vehicle was created by Goddess Parvati from the sandalwood dough. It was she who infused life in Ganesha and asked him to guard at the door while she was in her bath. When Lord Shiva returned and was stopped by this unknown child Ganesha, Shiva in rage cut off the head of that child. As soon as Parvati got to know about the severing of head of her son, she asked Shiva to bring him to life again. Shiva then implanted the head of an elephant on Ganesha's body. This re-birth of Ganesha is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as 'Vinayaka Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chavithi'.
Ganesh Chaturthi is said to have been celebrated since the days of Maratha rulers: Satavahana, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta. Mainly celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh with a lot of zeal and splendour, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular festival of Maharashtra. Ganesh Chaturthi was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji as a public event to promote traditions and nationalism, this festival was even celebrated by Peshwas to worship Ganapati as their family deity. The festivities remained a family affair until the festival was revitalised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the late 19th Century, to take the message of freedom struggle to all Indians. This festival brought in a feeling of unity and togetherness in Indians that helped in revival of their patriotic spirit. Through the medium of this festival he brought together all the classes of societies against British by getting rid of the caste differences. He stressed on it that Ganesh Chaturthi was a festival for everyone irrespective of the caste or class, and so he organised cultural events like dance dramas, musical nights, and religious gatherings on this festival. That was the time when social and political gatherings weren't allowed by the British. Festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi that continued for ten days gave people of every religion the scope to interact and know each other. It is from that time this festival has been celebrated every year with great fervour all over the country.