10 September in historythe calendars of IndiaHindu Festivals
The Festival of Vinayaka (Ganesha) Chaturthi is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Ganesha (Vinayaka), the God of Wisdom and Prosperity on the fourth day of Bhadra in August - September. Legend: "How did Vinayaka acquire siddhis (supreme powers)? His parents held a contest for their two sons - Ganesha and Subramanya. They said they will offer their grace in the form of a fruit to whoever came first in circumambulating the universe. The younger son, Subramanya, set out immediately on his peacock to go round the universe. On seeing Subramanya approaching his parents, almost at the end of his trip, Vinayaka, who had been quietly sitting all the while, got up and went round the parents and sat down. Parvathi (symbol of Creation) observed that Subramanya, who had taken so much trouble to go round the universe, should be declared the winner. Parameswara (Shiva) asked Vigneswara (Ganesha) what was the inner significance of his going round the parents. Ganesha replied: "The entire universe is permeated by both of you. The entire creation is a manifestation of the Shiva-Shakti form. It is an act of delusion to attempt to go round this phenomenal universe. To go round both of you is the true circumambulation of the cosmos." Then Parvathi exclaimed: "Yours is the fruit." Ganesha became the Lord of the Divine hosts (ganas). Easwara (Shiva) was so much impressed with the supreme intelligence of Vinayaka that he told him: "All those who wish to worship Me, will offer their worship first to you." Such was the grace showered on Vinayaka. What is the reason? Ganesha's faith in the Lord and His omnipresence. The right path for all people is to develop faith in God and lead godly lives." "The esoteric significance of the Elephant headed Ganesha image is: Ganapati has been given the head of an elephant because He is known for His extraordinary intelligence. The elephant is symbolic of extreme intelligence. Vinayaka is the embodiment of intelligence. He is described as Buddhi Vinayak and Siddhi Vinayaka (Vinayaka - the Wise and Vinayaka - the Accomplished)." There is astronomical support also for the Ganesha festival, celebrated on the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapada lunar month. A constellation with the appearance of the elephant head becomes brightly visible on this very night in the sky.

 dancing Ganesh    The festival of Vinayaka (=Ganesh) Chathurthi is celebrated in the month of bhadrapada on chaturthi (= 4th) day which comes after the new moon. It is celebrated all over India. People celebrate this day in a variety of ways. For anything to go well, we pray Lord Vinayaka. He is the first to be worshipped whenever we start anything. He relieves us from all our difficulties. He solves our problems. Lord Vinayaka has got an elephant face and human body. He is worshipped by many names like Vinayaka, Ganesha, Pillayar, Vigneshwara, Gajanana, Ganapathy, Mooshika Vahanaa, Modhaga priya etc. He rides on an animal called mooshika (a large kind of rat). In our houses we celebrate this pooja in a grand manner. We decorate the floor with kolams using rice flour. On that day we buy a new Vinayaka idol(made of clay). We also buy a decorated umbrella to place behind the idol. On a wooden plank, plantain leaf is placed and raw rice is spread over it. We place the idol on this and decorate with flowers and perform pooja. Vinayaka likes a dish called mothagam (kozhukkattai). So different varieties of kozhukkattai are prepared and offered to the lord on this day. It is the special item on this day. On the next day, punar pooja is done. This is the pooja which acts as an ending to the festival. After this we remove the idol from its place. On the next day after punar pooja, we immerse the idol in water in the sea, well or pond. In cities like Mumbai, Chennai etc. large Ganesha idols (a bout 6 ft) are placed in common places and pooja is performed in a very grand manner. People all around worship the lord. Prasadams (Dish offered to the lord) are distributed to the people. After the pooja is over, the idol is taken in a grand procession and immersed in the sea. For this pooja, different flowers are used. Erukkampoo(calotropis), thumbaipoo(white small flowers and arugampul( a type of grass) is very special for the lord. Different varieties of fruits are also offered.
     Elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh (or Ganesha, Vinakaya) is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Considered the remover of obstacles, he is the first god invoked at the beginning of worship or a new enterprise. His image is often seen at the entrance of temples or houses. He is a patron of learning and letters. He broke off one of his tusks to use as a stylus in writing the Mahabharata (= “Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty”) from Vyasa's dictation. He is also the chief of the ganas (attendants of Shiva).
     In pictures Ganesh is usually colored red, pot-bellied, with four arms that may hold a noose, a goad, a pot of rice or confections, and his broken tusk. He rides on a rat.
     Parvarti formed him from the rubbings of her body so that he would stand guard at the door while she bathed. When Shiva arrived, unaware that this was his son, he was enrage at being kept from his wife and sent his attendants to fight Ganesh. They cut off his head. When grieving Parvarti explained, Shiva repented and promised that he would give Ganesh as substitute head that of the very first creature he met. It turned out to be an elephant.
     Ganesh was worshiped by a small medieval sect, the Ganapatya. But in modern Hinduism he is a subsidiary deity. In 1893 nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak [23 July 1856 – 01 August 1920] sought to widen the popularity of India's independence struggle (until then mostly confined to the upper classes) by connecting it to religious symbolism as he organized the festival of Ganesh. It is observed as a national holiday throughout India, with particular fervor in the state of Maharashtra.

Vinayaka Chathurthi

GaneshaThe festival of Ganesha Chaturthi, comes in the Bhadrapada month.  This festival was initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in  Maharashtra and soon its spread to other states. In Andhra Pradesh, it is observed with pomp and splendour. Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom and success and remover of all obstacles.  According to the scriptures, not only human beings, but even the various divinities worshipped Lord Ganesha on different occasions.  He is propitiated at the commencement of every important endeavor, be it construction work, marriage or the starting of a new account book. Vinayaka Chaturthi offers a merry occasion for youngsters.  They gather various kinds of leaves and flowers, prescribed for the puja.  The beautifully decorated images are taken out in processions to the accompaniment of religious songs and music. Various cultural programmes, competitions etc. mark the 10 days period. These idols are worshipped regularly for several days, to invoke the blessings of god and later immersed in sea or water.  Modakas, are offered to god, and later distributed to the devotees, as ‘prasada’. 


Shiva Purana
There are various legends related to one of the most loving festivals of India, Ganesh Chaturthi. Legends say that, lord Ganapati was created by goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva. She has created him with the dough she used for taking bath, as she needed one doorkeeper while she takes bath. For this Goddess Parvati has created one doll first and breathed life into him. And this day is known as the birthday of lord Ganesha. It is also said that, while Goddess Parvati was taking her bath Lord Shiva happened to come there and as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter the house. As a result Lord Shiva got angry and he beheaded Ganesha. But after realizing the real fact lord Shiva fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha's head and thus the appearance of Lord Ganesha with the head of an elephant happened.

Another most popular legend found in Skanda Purana says, once Ganesha was invited for a feast in Chandralok. The god, known for his ravenous appetite, stuffed himself with laddoos. When he got up to walk after the meal, he could not balance because of his huge stomach and stumbled. As he fell, his stomach burst and all the laddoos came rolling out. The moon could not contain himself and began laughing. Enraged, Ganesha cursed the moon, causing him to vanish from the universe. However because of the moon's absence, the whole world began to wane. So the gods asked Shiva to persuade Ganesha to relent. The moon also apologized for his misbehaviour. On Shiva's intervention, Ganesha modified his curse. He announced that the moon would be invisible on only one day of a month, and would be partially seen for the Ganesha Utsav most part.

Lord Ganesh or affectionately called Ganapati is commonly depicted in homes and offices throughout India as chubby, smiling and a little mischievous. His devotees ascribe to Ganesh the ability to bestow wisdom and wealth upon us humans, thus making him probably the most popular deity in the Hindu pantheon. To repay Ganesha's bounty, in India, especially in Maharashtra and nearby areas around September every year the entire population celebrates the ten day festival of Lord Ganesha's birthday. In the Hindu lunar month of Bhadra, virtually the entire population of the city celebrates his birth in the ten-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

The day is also called Dagadi Chautha, or 'stone-throwing fourth day', in some places, stemming from the belief that if one inadvertently sees the moon on that night, one should throw stones on his neighbour’s roof to avert any calamity arising from the curse. In Maharashtra, the great festival of Ganesha begins on this day, with his idol being ceremonially installed. The next ten days, before the beginning of the inauspicious dark half of the month, are spent in praying to the god. These days are considered especially auspicious due to Ganesha's presence in the idol. Vighneshvar, the remover of obstacles, reciprocates by using his powers all through the year.
Ganesha Puja 

As Lord Ganesha is considered to be the common avatar of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, he is worshipped by both the hindu sects, the Shaivites and the Vaishnavites. 

During festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol of Ganesha is installed in an altar at home. The family members along with the help of a pandit (a hindu priest) perform puja (prayers) at home every morning and evening. They place offerings like flowers, rice & coins in front of the image of Lord Ganesha.

In the prayers that follow, it is customary to make 108 salutations to Ganesha. They read shlokas (invocation) and the Ganesha upanishad. Aarti (worship with a holy flame) is performed and hymns are sung. The singing of hymns has become a popular event during this festival.

These hymns are accompanied by the clanging of small musical instruments or gongs (called jhanja).After the ceremony, sweets and fruits are distributed to the guests and neighbors.


The celebrations of ganesh chaturthi are unique in itself with its fabulous festivities. Before the ten-day rite begins, the house and devotees must acquire a superlative state of purity. This is accomplished by cleaning or whitewashing the house or cleaning the place where the idol is to be placed. 

During the festival small images are purchased from shops and brought into homes and enormous images are moulded from clay by professional craftsmen and set up in pavilions in every district and suburb. On the tenth day of the holiday or "puja" all the industrial-size images are loaded on flat bed trucks while the smaller ones travel in the back seat of cars or are simply carried by hand on the urban railways to the beaches of the city where this most beneficent of gods is immersed and his clay form dissolved in the waters of the Arabian Sea.

The event is now a colossal celebration and perhaps the world's largest religion-inspired beach party. Processions from all over Bombay commandeer the city's already congested road system riding on and walking beside trucks bearing the Ganapatis. Loud speakers shriek from the truck cabs and processionals bang drums and gongs while the orange-capped devotees on the back of the trucks shower themselves and everyone in their wake with red powder called gulal.

updated Thursday 09-Sep-2004 20:43 UT
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