Ganesh Chaturthi is a time to pray to the Lord who is known to be the remover of all obstacles from our path and seek blessings for new beginnings. The Hindu god of wisdom and good luck is also the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom.
The younger son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has various stories behind his birth. The most commonly heard story is that Ganesha was created from the dirt off the body of goddess Parvati.
However, the spectacular festival has been much muted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
However the devotion and emotions of the devotees is unabated. The enthusiastic devotees are all ready to welcome Ganesha, following the Covid-19 safety protocols.
On this auspicious occasion, let’s peep into the history, importance and rituals of Ganesh Chaturthi.
Lord Ganesha, who is the patron of intellectuals, bankers, scribes and authors, is worshipped ahead of any major enterprise.
Ganesha Chaturthi marks the birthday of the beloved elephant-headed Lord. The auspicious celebration continues upto 10 days in the Bhadra month of Hindu calendar (mid August-September).
The joy and devotion for Ganesha Chaturthi can be seen throughout India but states like Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Telangana celebrate it with true magnificence.
It is said that Parvati created him out of the dirt from her body and asked Ganesha to guard her in the absence of Shiva.
While Ganesha was guarding her bathroom door, Shiva returned home.
Ganesha, unaware of who Shiva was, barred him from entering. This led to a scuffle between the two and the angry Lord beheaded Ganesha. When Parvati came to know about the unfortunate incident, she was enraged and shattered.
Shiva promised to bring Ganesha back to life. All of the devas were then sent to find a child’s head facing north but all they could find was the head of an elephant.
Shiva fixed the elephants’ head on the child’s body and brought him to life. That marks the birth of the lord of wisdom Ganesha.
What history speaks about Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesha remained the principal deity for many Hindu Kings like Shivaji and many others.
Shivaji made Ganesh Chaturthi a major social and public event with a lot of pomp and show.
Though it faded away with the British colonization and became a private affair.
Yet again in the 19th century, Ganesha was worshipped with fanfare because of Lokmanya Tilak. The freedom fighter, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, made a public appeal and challenged the British who had put a ban on the Hindu gathering.
The first public (sarvajanik) idol was installed by Bhau Rangari and the celebration was much publicized in the Kesari newspaper. Ganesh Chaturthi then became a large, well organized public event.
Also read: Bahuda Yatra- The Grand Homecoming
Rituals of Ganesh Chaturthi
Pran Pratishtha, Shhodashopachara, Uttar Puja and Ganpati Visarjan are the four main rituals which are observed throughout the 10-day celebration.
The excitement of the Utsav hits the people weeks before the arrival of Ganesha.
The artisans start preparation of the idols in different sizes and poses. The sculptures in Mumbai are enticing and eye catching with innovations and creativity.
Snow, beans, biodegradable, crayon, tissue paper, fibre, paper and spices are the few of the materials used to create the idols in Maharashtra.
Every year the artisans leave the devotees and audience awestruck with the beauty of the idols. The idols of Ganesha are installed in the alluring pandals or the stage at temples, localities or even at home.
With garlands, lights, flowers and decorative items, the pandals and the idols are adorned with great love and care.
Ganesha is offered delicious delicacies like modak, puran poli, karanji and many other desserts.
In many places Ganesha Chaturthi is also considered auspicious to start a child’s education and hence many children are given blessings by the Ganesha to start their student life.
Pran Pratishtha is the first ritual where the priest chants the mantra to put or invoke life into the deity worshipped.
Shodashopachara includes the offerings with 16 different prayers.
The festival involves all these ornaments of celebration.
Uttar Puja is the farewell offered to Lord Ganesha which holds reverence and saddened emotions.
The farewell is then followed by the Ganpati Visharjan in which the idols are immersed in water.
During the farewell procession, the people chant Ganpati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya, which means goodbye Lord, please come back next year.
The devotees are all seen in teary eyes and heavy hearts bidding a goodbye to the lord of wisdom.
The idols are usually made up of Plaster of Paris, plastic and many non-biodegradable materials which are a threat to the environment.
Every year immersion of idols in sea water has aroused issues of water pollution and soil erosion.
The idols are now starting to be eco-friendly. Clay and mud Ganeshas are preferred nowadays. Many innovators are coming up with various eco-friendly and beautiful idols like the seed Ganeshas.
In many areas, artificial ponds are also created to get the immersion done without polluting the water.
Maharashtra has been the state whose pomp and show steals the spotlight every year during Ganesha Chaturthi.
As of now the pandemic has tightened the measures and put a stop to the fanfare.
The municipality has made arrangements, although much more quietly.
A sombre affair in 2020
As Covid 19 has taken centrestage, Ganesha Chaturthi will be a quiet affair as mentioned earlier.
There would be no community celebration or large congregation at public places, and the violators will be imposed a hefty fine. The heights of the idols are also capped to 4 feet and prior permission has to be taken for pandals from the municipality or local authority.
Home idols have to be only 2 feet and there would be no procession or crowds.
Containment zones are barred from Ganesha Utsav, and there would be private vehicles for immersion.
The Arogya Setu App is compulsory for mandal office bearers and social distancing and masks are also compulsory. The restrictions must be strictly followed to avoid the fines and spread of the virus.
Wishing you all a Happy and Safe Ganesha Chaturthi from Utkal Today. We pray the Vighnaharta takes all your problems and gives you the strength to fight with them.