Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals in India. It celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu god who stands for wisdom. It is usually observed on the 4th day after the new moon in the month of August or September. The Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated for a period of 11 days and it ends with the celebrations on the last day called the Ananta Chaturdasi.
Ganesh Chaturthi 2013 will start from September 9 and end on September 19.
The Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in most states of India, such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, and Andhra Pradesh. If you'd like to explore the events during this festival, you should visit Mumbai. The Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai deserve special mention. Thousands of devotees visit the temple to pay their tribute to Lord Ganesha. Also, thousands of statues of the Lord are worshipped in and around Mumbai.
During Ganesh Chaturthi 2013, you may follow the ritual and traditions, and celebrate with a lot of fun and enthusiasm. Read on to know about the rituals and traditions associated with this festival.
On the Ganesh Chaturthi, the statue of Lord Ganesha is installed in homes, temples, and mandaps. The size of the idol may be as small as ¾ of an inch or as high as 25 feet. The idols are elegantly decorated once they are installed. Even the temples and mandaps are adorned with flowers and lights. Sometimes, theme based decorations are used to give a unique look to the mandaps. Such themes include current events and religious issues.
When the rituals begin, the priest chants mantras to invoke life into the idol. This ritual is called the 'Pranapratishtha'. This ritual is followed by the 'Shhodashopachara' which includes the 16 ways of paying respect to Lord Ganesha. There are certain offerings made to Lord Ganesha. These include coconut, jaggery and rice flour preparation. Besides, red flowers and 21 durva (trefoil) are also offered to the Lord. While these offerings are made, a red sandal paste is applied to the idol.
The Ganesh puja involves the chanting of hymns from the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, Rig Veda and other religious scriptures. This continues for 10 days, and on the 11th day, the idol of Ganesha is immersed in a river or sea. The devotees actually take the idol through the streets, thus singing, dancing and shouting 'Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya' which means that the Lord should come back next year. The Ganesh Chaturthi 2013 will witness similar celebrations in India as well as other parts of the world.
On the Ganesh Chaturthi, people usually get up early in the morning and take a bath so that they can proceed toward the temple to offer their prayers to Lord Ganesha. The devotees offer coconut, sweet pudding, and other items when they visit the temples or perform the Ganesh Chaturtha rituals at their homes.
A popular tradition followed on the 1st day of Ganesh Chaturthi is to avoid looking at the moon on that day and pray to God to give you spiritual strength, so that you succeed in your endeavors.
On this special day, there are processions held to enjoy the festival. There's loud music on the streets with people dancing to religious songs. You too can be a part of this dance and merriment. You may participate in the Dance Ganesh, a huge procession that starts from the Mahalaxmi Temple Compound in Central Mumbai and reaches up to the seafront. The entire ambience turns lively with religious songs, trendy music, drum beats, and dances of devotees.There are lights, lasers, fireworks, and much more to add to the festive spirit.
On the Ganesh Chaturthi, you'll find local communities competing with each other to install the best statue and have the best mandap decorations. You can participate in cultural activities or attend events like the theater and orchestra. Amid the celebrations of this festival, you may contribute toward the poor and the needy. Blood donation and free medical checkup are common activities organized during the celebrations. You'll find similar activities and events held during Ganesh Chaturthi 2013.
The Indians residing abroad celebrate this festival with a lot of enthusiasm. In the U.S., the Swayamsevak Sangh (an organization of the Hindus) plans events and activities to commemorate the birth of Lord Ganesha.
In the UK, the Hindu culture and Heritage Society based in Southall, London has been celebrating the Ganesh Chaturthi since 2005. The members of the Society perform the puja at the Vishwa Hindu Temple. Another celebration of the Ganesh Chaturthi is held on River Mersey at Liverpool, UK. The celebrations in Canada are organized by various Marathi associations residing in Toronto and Vancouver.
If you're interested in observing this festival at home, well then you may perform a puja on your own or invite a priest to do the same. A traditional puja of Ganesha will be most satisfying for you if you're a true devotee of the Lord.