Ganesh Chaturthi was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, in order to spread traditions and nationalism. It was later revitalised by Lokmanya Tilak (a freedom fighter) to make his message of freedom struggle reach the public. Ganesh Chaturthi did unite Indians leading to revival of patriotism. Since then, this festival is celebrated with brilliance, and the preparations for it begin a month prior to the festivities. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the Chaturthi or the 4th day of the fortnight, as per the Hindu lunar month of Magh, as Lord Ganesha's birthday. Modak are distributed on this day and people have them before the meal. Idols of Ganapati, placed at homes, pandals and temples are offered milk and puja as per customs is performed. These festivities are performed from five to ten days depending upon the traditions of family. This festival is mostly celebrated in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Goa.
Ganesh Chaturthi In Maharashtra
The best place to experience the grandeur of this festival is however in the state of Maharashtra, particularly in the city of Mumbai where celebrations take place in a unique way. Numerous devotees visit Siddhivinayak Temple that is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, during these days of festivities. Over 100000 idols of the Lord are displayed in the city and one can hear the voices singing "Ganpati Bappa Morya" from every corner of the lane. The celebrations begin with the putting in of huge intricately carved idols of the Lord Ganesha on higher podiums in houses, temples or make-shift pandals. After the establishment of the idols, a ritual is performed to call upon the divine presence of Lord Ganesha into the idol. This ceremony of reciting a lot of mantras is termed as Pranpratishtha Puja.
After this special prayers are sung in the praise of the Lord. Ganapati is then offered sweets, flowers, rice, coconut, jaggery and coins. Red Chandan powder is then smeared on the idols of the God. Prayers are offered all the ten days; music and dance drama shows are conducted, cultural events take place all over Mumbai. Every street of Mumbai is full of life and light during these days of Ganesh Chaturthi. Then on the last day of the festivities, Ananta Chaturdashi, the procession takes place through the streets, wherein the idols are taken for immersion. The idols of Lord Ganesha are then immersed in water (sea or river) with all pomp and show. Aloud are the chants of "Ganesh Maharaj Ki Jai", strongly believing that Ganesha would take their sorrows with him while going and sincere requests are made, asking the Lord to return again soon next year.