Ganesh Chaturthi

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Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Festival.jpg
Ganesh Festival, Mumbai
Observed by Hindus
Type Religious/folk
Celebrations Setting up Pandals, street processions and idol immersion
Begins Bhadrapada shukla chaturthi
Ends Anant Chaturdashi
Date August/September
2013 date 9 September
2014 date 29 August
2015 date 17 september
Duration 5–7 days,10–12 days
Frequency annual

Ganesha Chaturthi (गणेश चतुर्थी) (వినాయక చవితి) is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed, remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings and wisdom. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

The festival involves installing clay images of Ganesha in public pandals (temporary shrines), which are worshipped for ten days with different variety of herbal leaves, plants and immersed at the end of the festival in a water(lake) along with the Idol. After adding herbal and medicated plants and leaves(patri) in lakes, the water in the lake becomes purified. This was in practice because, in early days people used to drink lake water, and to protect people from infections and viral diseases especially in this season, this tradition was introduced. Some Hindus also install the clay images of Ganesha in their homes. It is believed that Ganesha bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. The festival is celebrated as a public event since the days of Shivaji (1630–1680).

While celebrated all over India, it is grandest and most elaborate of them especially in Maharastra and Telangana which lasts for 10 days, ending on the day Anant Chaturdashi. And in other parts of Western India[1] and Southern India it is celebrated.[2] Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Terai region of Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius,[3] Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.

'On Ganapathi visarjan day, at Mumbai(2014)'

Legend of Ganesh[edit]

Main article: Ganesha

Traditional Ganesha Hindu stories tell of Lord Ganesha, son of goddess Parvati, who is consort of Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him the task of guarding her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva, who had gone out, returned and as Ganesha didn't know him, didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged by this and asked his follower Ganas to teach the child some manners. Ganesha who was very powerful, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of Shakti, defeated Shiva's followers and declared that nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing. The sage of heavens, Narada along with the Saptarishis sensed the growing turmoil and went to appease the boy with no results. Angered, the king of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn't stand a chance. By then, this issue had become a matter of pride for Shiva. Angry Shiva severed the head of the child. Parvati seeing this became enraged. Seeing Parvati in anger Shiva promised that her son will be alive again. The devas searched for the head of dead person facing North, but they found only the head of a dead elephant. They brought the head of the elephant and Shiva fixed it on the child's body and brought him back to life. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day the boy would be called Ganesha (Gana Isha : Lord of Ganas).[4]

According to the Linga Purana, Ganesha was created by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at the request of the Devas for being a Vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of Rakshasas, and a Vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the Devas achieve fruits of their hard work.[5]

Date[edit]

The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi, the fourth lunar day of the waxing moon fortnight.[6] The date usually falls between 20 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 to 12 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi.

Celebration, rituals and tradition[edit]

2011 India's Biggest Ganesh Murti (more than 70 feet) in Vishakhapatnam
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in Vadodara

Weeks or even months before Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated and depict Lord Ganesh in vivid poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet.[citation needed]

Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mandapas (pandals) in every locality. The pandals are erected by the people or a specific society or locality or group by collecting monetary contributions. The pandals are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events.

The priest, usually clad in red or white dhoti and uttariyam (Shawl), then with the chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesha using the statue as a channel, or body for his energy. This ritual is the Pranapratishhtha. After this the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of kumkum and sandalwood paste. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted. There are certain methods on how to celebrate the festival including how to perform the Ganpati Staphna (Idol Installation), perform the Ganesh Visarjan (Immersion) and other rituals and traditions which should make a part of your festivity.

Celebrations in parts of India and other countries[edit]

Domestic celebration in Maharashtra[edit]

In Maharashtra, most Hindu families also install their own small clay statues for worship on Ganesh Chaturthi. As per the tradition of their respective families, the domestic celebrations come to end an end after 1,3,5,7 or 11 days when the statue is taken in a procession to a large body of water such as rivers or sea for immersion. Due to environmental concerns, a number of families now avoid the large water bodies and instead immerse the statue in a bucket or tub at home. After a few days the clay is used in the home garden. In some cities, a public eco-friendly process is used for immersion.[7]

Domestic celebration in Telangana[edit]

In Telangana, Clay Ganesh (Matti Vinayakudu in Telugu) and Turmeric Ganesh (Siddhi Vinayakudu in Telugu) is usually worshipped at homes along with plaster of paris Ganesha.As per the tradition of their respective families, the domestic celebrations come to end an end after 1,3,5,7 or 11 days where majority of the idols are taken to Tank Bund Road and immerse in Hussain sagar. 11th day celebrations at Tank Bund Road takes entire night and fills the area with enormous crowd immersing various kinds of Ganesh idols. People comes from all over India to witness these celebrations.Khairtabad Ganesh is one of the tallest and most famous idols in India. Balapur Ganesh idol is well known for its Laddu.

Festival dishes[edit]

Ganesh Visarjan in Mumbai

The main sweet dish during the festival is the modak (modak in Marathi, modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka/kadubu in Kannada, kozhakatta/modakkam in Malayalam and kozhukattai/modagam in Tamil). A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada) which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has a semicircular shape.

In Telangana and Kerala, modakkam (rice flour dumplings stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture), Laddu, Vundrallu (steamed coarsely grounded rice flour balls), Panakam (jaggery, black pepper and cardamom flavored drink), Vadapappu (soaked and moong lentils), "Chalividi" (cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture), etc., are offered to Ganesha along with Modakams. These offerings to god are called Naivedyam in Telugu. Traditionally, the plate containing the Modak is filled with twenty-one pieces of the sweet.

Celebrations in Tamil Nadu[edit]

Ganesh Chaturthi is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Here it is known as vinayakachaturthi or pillayar chaturthi and the festival falls on the fourth day after new moon in the month of aavani. On this day ganesh idols made of clay are worshipped in all homes. It is known as kaliman pillayar. ganesh is decorated with garlands and Bermuda grass known asarukampul(அருகம்புல் ) in tamil.Modak,ladoo and other dishes are offered to ganesha.People throng ganesh temples all day .Famous ganesh temples in state will be decked up with devotees all day. Large ganesh idols are installed in public places in the state particularly in Chennai and the idols are not usually more than 13 feet high. Idols are usually made of clay and paper machete as plaster of paris idols are banned by the state government .In many places idols are made of coconuts and other organic products. The idols are worshipped for some days in pandals.and are immersed in the bay of Bengal the following Sunday. The Tamil Nadu police department makes elaborate arrangements for the festival. Ganesh chaturthi has become one of the major festivals in tamil nadu especially Chennai

Ganesh idol in salem, Tamil Nadu

Celebration in Kerala[edit]

Ganesh Chathurthi is also celebrated in the state of Kerala, where it is known as vinyakha chathurthi or lamboodhara piranalu. The festival falls in the month of chingam and people worship idols of ganesha and do milk abhishekam.[clarification needed] Temples are very crowded and people give for nivedeyam. There are fairs in each locality which includes concerts, dancing and skits. In the city of thiruvanathapuram a grand procession is held from the pazhavangadi ganapathi temple to the Shankumugham beach with tall statues of ganesh made of organic items and milk which immersed into the sea. Elephant worship is also widely practiced across Kerala. In the temples peoples break thousands of coconuts for removing sins. Grand feasts are given to people after nivedyam. Streets are decorated with flowers and rangolis.

Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa[edit]

Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular and extravagant festival celebrated by the Hindu Goans.Locally known as Chavath in Konkani(Devanagari:चवथ,Romi lipi:Chovoth)and is also known as Parab(Parva,or an auspicious celebration).[8] Preparations begin a month before,and the actual festivities begin on the third day of lunar month of Bhadrapada,on this day Haritalika or Gauri with Shiva is worshiped by women,which also includes fasting.[9] On the day of festival,elaborate Pujas and feasts are organised,Arati is one of the major attraction of the festivities.Many instruments which are unique to Goa like Ghumot,Shamel, and other classical instruments such as cymbals,Pakhawaj etc. are played.[10] Decorations,fireworks,gifts,and sweets play a major role during the festivities.Harvest festival known as Navyachi Pancham is celebrated on the next day,newly harvested paddy is ceremoniously brought home from the fields or temples(where Puja is held on a community level) and a Puja is conducted. Most of the idols are immersed either in the sea,rivers or tanks and wells on the second day,whereas some places festivities may run for five,seven,nine or eleven days.[9]

An artist at work,Margao, Goa

Ganesh Chaturthi has a long history in Goa, which predates the Kadamba era. Goa Inquisition had banned all the Hindu festivals, and heavy restrictions were imposed on the Hindus who did not convert to Christianity. However Goans continued to practice their culture. Many families worship Ganesha in the form of Patri(leaves used for worshiping Ganesha or any other deity),a picture drawn on paper,small silver idols,or in some households Ganesha idols are even hidden,this is a remarkable thing about Ganesh festival in Goa.The reason for this was,ban on clay Ganesha idols,or festivities as a part of Inquisition of the Jesuits,many families have still kept the tradition alive.[11] Another striking feature about Chavath of Goa is,unlike Maharashtra, its more a family affair,and a very sentimental for the Goans. It's generally a celebration of the joint family,some families of 1000 or more members,still celebrate the festival together with great fanfare in their ancestral homes.Many such families are found in Goa.[12]Goan Catholics also take part in the festivities in many places.

Public celebrations[edit]

Public celebrations of the festival are hugely popular, with local Festival Committees (mandalas) vying with each other to put up the biggest statue and the best pandal. The festival is also the time for cultural activities like singing and theater performances, orchestra and community activities like free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, etc.

Today, the Ganesh Festival is not only a popular festival, it has become a very critical and important economic activity for Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Many artists, industries, and businesses earn a significant amount of their living from this Festival. Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many other religions also participate in the celebration like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others.[citation needed]

Outside India[edit]

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the UK by the migrant Hindu population as well as the large number of Indians residing there. The Hindu culture and Heritage Society, UK – a Southall based organisation celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi for the first time in London in 2005 at The Vishwa Hindu Temple. The Idol was immersed in the river Thames at Putney Pier. Another celebration organised by an Gujarati group has been celebrated in the Southend-on-Sea which attracts over 18000 devotees.[13] Annual celebrations also take place on the River Mersey at Liverpool.[14][15]

The festival is similarly celebrated in many locations across the world. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, an organisation of Hindus based in the US organises many such events to mark the Hindu festivals.

Tamil dancers on the streets of paris during 2009 ganesha festival

In USA, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by various associations of people from India. (Various Indian Associations of North America and in Temples across USA.)

The Philadelphia Ganesh popularly known as PGF is the largest Sarvajanik (fully contributed by public funds) Hindu festival in North America. Since 2005 the festival is conducted every year in Bharatiya Temple, Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The 10 days are marked by processions, devotional programs, cultural events, India filmi-orchestra and a weekend carnival. While the Marathi community plays a big role in organising the festival, participation from all communities such as Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, North Indian, Bengali etc. is seen as the reason for its success and uniqueness.

In Canada, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by associations of Marathi-speaking people. (MBM in Toronto, MSBC in Vancouver, etc.)

Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius dates back to 1896. The first Ganesh Chaturthi Puja was held in the 7 Cascades Valley next to Henrietta village by the Bhiwajee family who is still celebrating this pious festival after more than a century. Over the years the festival gained such popularity on the island that Mauritian government has attributed a public holiday for that day.

In Malaysia and Singapore, the festival is more commonly known as Vinayagar Chakurthi because of the relatively larger Tamil-speaking Hindu minority among the other South Asian ethnic groups. It is very common to see pictures or statues of Lord Ganesha at the entrance of homes, business premises and schools. These idols are usually decorated with flower garlands alongside offerings of fruits and sweets. Most Ganesha temples mark Vinayagar Chaturthi with morning prayers, abhishegam (ritual bathing of the deity) and free vegetarian lunch for devotees and the poor. Chariot processions organised by Ganesha temples in the evenings often attract huge crowds of devotees and tourists.

History[edit]

It is not known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated.[16] Ganesh Chaturthi was being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630–1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire.[16] The Peshwas, the de facto hereditary administrators of the Empire from 1749 till its end in 1818, encouraged the celebrations in their administrative seat Pune as Ganesha was their family deity (Kuladevata).[16] With the fall of the Peshwas, Ganesh Chaturthi lost state patronage and became a private family celebration again till its revival by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.[16]

In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organized public event.[17] Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesha as "the god for everybody",[18][19] and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order "to bridge the gap between Brahmins and 'non-Brahmins' and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them", and generate nationalistic fervour among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule.[20][21] Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, sea, or other pools of water all public images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.[22]

Under Tilak's encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the form of intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, performances of plays, musical concerts, and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings.

Environmental impact[edit]

After immersion broken.jpeg
Lake contaminated with Plaster of Paris Ganesha idols

The most serious impact of the festival on the environment is due to the immersion of idols made of Plaster of Paris into lakes, rivers and the sea. Traditionally, the idol was sculpted out of mud taken from nearby one’s home. After the festival, it was returned to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body. This cycle was meant to represent the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature.

However, as the production of Ganesh idols on a commercial basis grew, the earthen or natural clay (shaadu maati in Marathi and banka matti in Telugu) was replaced by Plaster of Paris. Plaster is a man-made material, easier to mould, lighter and less expensive than clay. However, plaster is non-biodegradable, and insoluble in water. Moreover, the chemical paints used to adorn these plaster idols themselves contain heavy metals like mercury and cadmium, causing water pollution. Also, on immersion, non-biodegradable accessories that originally adorned the idol accumulate in the layers of sand on the beach.

In the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Radio Jaagriti, the leading Hindu radio station in the country, has actively educated the public of the environmental implications of the use of plaster of Paris murtis. Clay Lord Ganeshas have been encouraged to be used for immersion into the water courses to prevent any harmful environmental impacts. Ganesh Chaturthi is a widely celebrated Hindu Festival in Trinidad and Tobago.

In Goa, the sale of Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris (PoP) is banned by the State Government. People are urged to buy traditional clay idols made by artisans.[23]

Recently there have been new initiatives sponsored by some state governments to produce clay Ganesha idols.[24]

Artificial pool created to immerse Plaster of Paris idols.

On the final day of the Ganesh festival thousands of plaster idols are immersed into water bodies by devotees. These increase the level of acidity in the water and the content of heavy metals.[25] Several non-governmental and governmental bodies have been addressing this issue. Amongst the solutions proposed are as follows:

  • Return to the traditional use of natural clay idols and immerse the icon in a bucket of water at home.
  • Use of a permanent icon made of stone and brass, used every year and a symbolic immersion only.
  • Recycling of plaster idols to repaint them and use them again the following year.
  • Ban on the immersion of plaster idols into lakes, rivers and the sea.[26]
  • Creative use of other biodegradable materials such as papier-mâché to create Ganesh idols.
  • Encouraging people to immerse the idols in tanks of water rather than in natural water bodies.

To handle religious sentiments sensitively, some temples and spiritual groups have taken up the cause.[27]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Britannica
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Festivals, Cultural Events and Public Holidays in Mauritius". Mauritius Tourism Authority. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/hmvp/hmvp35.htm
  5. ^ http://www.shivshankar.in/the-birth-of-vighanavinashak-gajanan-ganesha/
  6. ^ Ref. Dharmasindhu and Indian Calendric System, by Commodore S.K. Chatterjee (Retd). Madhyahana is the 3rd / 5th part of the day (Sunrise-sunset). (Ganesh Chaturthi festival calculation information provided by mypanchang.com). If Chaturthi (fourth lunar day) prevails on two days, the first day should be observed. Even if chaturthi prevails for the complete duration of madhyahana on the second day, if it prevails on the previous day's madhyahana period even for one ghatika (24 minutes), the previous day should be observed.
  7. ^ Zha, Bagish K. (20 September 2013). "Eco-friendly 'Ganesh Visarjan' save water and soil from getting polluted in Indore". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Goa, Daman and Diu (India). Directorate of Archives, Archaeology, and Museum. Purabhilekh-puratatva: Journal of the Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museum, , Volume 2. Panaji-Goa: The Directorate, 1984. p. 94. 
  9. ^ a b "GANESH CHATURTHI or CHOVOTH". http://www.goatourism.gov.in/. Govt of Goa. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Singbal, Anwesha. "Bringing the local beat back". http://www.thegoan.net/. The Goan. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Of fervour & Traditions". http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/. TOI. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Singbal, Anwesha. "When an entire household sings for the Lord of Music". http://www.thegoan.net/. The Goan. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Also by a south Indian group Edlabandi (aka eldabandi.com) in UK organised these celebrations widely in 2012 and continue to do in upcoming years, said by its CEO Suman Balamuri. Thousands turn out for Hindu Festival at Shoebury East Beach, Southend Standard
  14. ^ BBC report on 2008 Festival of Immersion
  15. ^ Liverpool Daily Post: Report on 2010 event
  16. ^ a b c d Kapoor, Subodh. The Indian Encyclopaedia. Cosmo Publications. p. 2514. ISBN 978-81-7755-257-7. 
  17. ^ Metcalf, Thomas R.; Metcalf, Barbara Daly. A Concise History of India. ISBN 0-521-63027-4. Metcalf and Metcalf, p. 150.
  18. ^ Momin, A. R., The Legacy Of G. S. Ghurye: A Centennial Festschrift, p. 95.
  19. ^ For Ganesha's appeal as "the god for everyman" as a motivation for Tilak, see: Brown (1991), p. 9.
  20. ^ Brown, Robert L. (1991). Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God. Albany: State University of New York. ISBN 0-7914-0657-1. Brown (1991), p. 9.
  21. ^ For Tilak's role in converting the private family festivals to a public event in support of Indian nationalism, see: Thapan, p. 225.
  22. ^ For Tilak as the first to use large public images in maṇḍapas (pavilions or tents) see: Thapan, p. 225.Thapan, Anita Raina (1997). Understanding Gaņapati: Insights into the Dynamics of a Cult. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. ISBN 81-7304-195-4. 
  23. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/goa-bans-plaster-of-paris-ganesha-idols/article5070472.ece
  24. ^ The Environmentally Friendly Ganesh
  25. ^ M. Vikram Reddy, A. Vijay Kumar (December 2001). Effects of Ganesh-icon immersion on some water quality parameters of Hussainsagar Lake. 
  26. ^ Ganesh immersions ruled unlawful
  27. ^ Ganesh immersion: temple’s campaign finds many takers


External links[edit]