What is Ganesh-Chaturthi?
Sri Ganesh is the first amongst the Hindu
Dieties.God is worshipped as Ganesh in His first form and
On the 4th tithi of the bright forthnight in the
Hindu month of Bhadrapad(August-September),this festival of
Ganesh Chaturthi is observed. The most auspicious time or Muhurth
for the performance of this celebration is midday,as said by
Brihaspati and quoted in Kala-niraya.
Method of worship.....
A clay image of Lord Ganesh,beautifully painted,is
brought and Prana Pratishta (consecration)is effected and worship
is offered to Lord Ganesh also called Vinayak,with 16 Upcharas or
steps of worship as follows:
1. Aawaahanam 2.Aasanam 3.Paadyam 4.Arghyam
5.Aachamaneeyam 6.Snaanam 7.Vastram 8.Yagyopaveetam 9.Gandham
10.Akshatam 11.Pushpam 12.Dhoopam 13.Deepam 14.Naivedhyam
15.Tamboolam 16.Dakshanaam and of course Aartee.
During the Ganehchaturthi festival, clay idols of
Ganesha are specially prepared for pooja. During the period when
the idol of Ganesha is installed in a home, every morning and
evening prayers (Aarti) are performed and hymns are sung. The
singing of hymns is a popular event during this festival,
especially for children. The hymns are sung to the clanging of
small gongs (called jhanja), the sounds of which reverberate
throughout the day
The Visarjan (immersion) Processions and
The festival ends with the ceremony of immersion of
the idols in the sea or rivers and wells. This ceremony which is
called Ganesha-Visarjan which means immersion of Ganesha is as
popular as the festival proper. During the immersion ceremony
huge crowds move in a procession carrying idols of Ganesha
towards the places of immersion. These processions which take
place with great fanfare, begins in the afternoon and continue
till the late hours of the night.
The Public Celebrations of Ganesh-Chaturthi
In these public celebrations huge images of Ganesha
ranging from 10 feet to 40 feet are installed and alongwith the
daily prayers and hymns, there are entertainment programmes which
are a major attraction. Till the turn of the last century, this
festival was celebrated only in homes and temples. But during the
struggle for independence against British rule, Lokmanya Tilak
(an important freedom fighter who led the Indian freedom struggle
before Mahatma Gandhi took over) gave it the form of a public
The Mythological Explanation of Ganesha
But parallel to all the rationalization of this
phenomenon, mythology has an equally enthralliing account that
explains the birth (or more properly the creation) of this
curious half-man, half-elephant God called Gajanana or Ganesha.
All Hindus know that Ganesha is an unique deity. He is no
ordinary God, but is like the first among equals. All Hindu
prayers start with the invocation "Shree Ganeshaaya
Namaha" meaning Salutations to You O Ganesha. Mythology has
an explanation to offer for Ganesha's elephant head as well
as for his being a first among the Gods. The divine couple of
Shiva and Parvati had remained childless for a long time after
the birth of their first son Kartikeya.
Parvati makes Ganesha from Clay and Infuses Life in
Parvati's motherly instincts made her yearn for
a son and Shiva's long absence from home intensified her
yearning due to loneliness. On day a bright idea came to her
mind, she decided to mould a statue of clay in the form of a son.
Having created this the idol satisfied her yearning for a son.
She used her divine power to bring the clay idol to life. Happy
as she was to have the company of a son, she went about her
chores, many a times leaving the boy in charge of the house.
Shiva Confronts Ganesha
One fine day while Parvati was busy with her daily
ablutions, Shiva turned up and saw Parvati's son Ganesha,
guarding the entrance to his house.
Shiva - the Lord of Mount Kailas who is portrayed
as the Destroyer in the Hindu trinity (trimurti) along with
Brahma (the Creator) and Vishnu (the Preserver). Shiva is also
known as Nataraja or Nateswara (Lord of dance). Shiva is
characterised by an angry temperament and we are told has a third
eye on his forehead that emits fire if opened. The unfortunate
Madana who dared disturb Shiva's meditation was reduced to
ashes when Shiva opened his third eye, enraged by Madana's
having disturbed his Tapasya (meditation).
Strangers as they were to each other the son
(Ganesha) refused allow Shiva to enter the house. Taken aback at
being prevented from entering his own house, Shiva asked this
tiny sentinel who he was. On being told that he was Parvati's
son Shiva was confounded and enraged, at this insolence. In a fit
of anger Shiva chopped off his head and threw it away.
Shiva fetches an Elephant's Head for the
When Parvati heard about this outrage she lost her
temper and she demanded that Shiva restore her son to life
immediately. Compelled to appease Parvati, Shiva set out to find
the head of her son. Hard as he tried, he could not find the head
that he had chopped off and thrown away in disgust. As he could
not find the head he wanted, he thought of fitting the headless
body with the head of any living being that he would come across.
Having so resolved he came across a baby elephant and true to his
word, Shiva chopped off the elephant's head, carried it to
his beloved and to pacify her, he fitted it to the lifeless body
of her son and revived him. This was how the Lord Gajanana or
Gaja-Mukha came into being.
Ganesha become the first among the Gods
To atone for his deed Shiva also granted a special
status to Gajanana by issuing a divine decree that thence forth
Gajanana would be the first to be invoked in every prayer and
only after this, could the invocation of any pther God takes
place. This was how the elephant-headed Ganesha got to acquire
his privileged position. In deference to the decree of lord
Shiva, Hindus today, continue to regard Ganesha as the first God
to be invoked in any prayer.