Ganesh Chaturthi is the famous festival celebrated with great enthusiasm in Maharashtra. Lord Ganesha is one of the deities in Hinduism who is also called ‘Vighnaharta’ or the conqueror obstacles. It is said that he removes all kinds of obstacles from one’s path. As per Hindu rituals, Lord Ganesha is worshipped before any other puja or auspicious ceremony. He is also the lord of wisdom and intelligence. He is associated with success, happiness, and joy. The festival Ganesh Chaturthi was the day when Lord Ganesha was born, begins on Chaturthi or the fourth day of Bhadrapada. As per the Hindu calendar, Bhadrapada is the sixth month and falls within August-September of the English calendar. This festival is celebrated for 10 days and is also popular as Vinayaka Chaturthi. Vinayaka is another name for Lord Ganesha, meaning “destroyer of all evils”.
Ganesh Chaturthi: Mythology and History
Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in various parts of India, but it holds special importance in the state of Maharashtra. Beautiful idols are created and sold all over India in different sizes. Apart from households, Ganesha is also worshipped on a huge scale by organizations, associations, and community groups. Holidays are given to commercial establishments, schools, offices, etc as per the assigned number of days. While there are a lot of delicacies prepared during this festival, modak is the favorite sweet of Lord Ganesha and is a must for this festival.
As per mythology or Hindu texts, Lord Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati and thus he was her son. When goddess Parvati was taking bath, she told Ganesha to guard the entrance and not to allow anyone inside. When Lord Shiva arrived, Ganesha denied him entry which turned him furious. As a result of this Lord Shiva beheaded Lord Ganesha. When Goddess Parvati came to know this, she was shocked and furious at Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva also came to know about Ganesha and to save him he ordered his Ganas to bring the head of someone who could be found first. As a result, the head of an elephant was bought as he was seen first, and it was fixed on the body of Lord Ganesha. This day is considered a rebirth of Lord Ganesha and is celebrated as Ganesha Chaturthi. He was blessed by all Gods and given a boon by Shiva that he will be the first God to worship before any other God’s puja or any auspicious occasion. There are 31 forms of Ganesha as per Mudgala Purana. There are many temples all around the world where he is worshipped and cherished.
Ganapati or Ganesha can be found in Rig veda. After that, he is mentioned in vajasenayi Samhita,Mahabharata, Skanda purana, Brahma vaivarta purana and more. Archaeological evidence is also there in many Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples during the period 5th to 8th century BC. In many old paintings or carvings, he is also seen with his two wives Riddhi and Siddhi. Ganesh Chaturthi is known to be celebrated publicly during the reign of Chatrapati Shivaji in Pune (1630-1680). Lots of problems and control of the British empire negatively influenced this festival later but it was eventually revived by well-known Marathi’s like Bhausaheb Laxman Javale and Lokmanya Tilak.
Lord Ganesh: Symbolism
Elephant head – Wisdom
Truck – Success and moksha
Two tusks – emotions and wisdom
Four arms – mind, ego, intellect, and conscience
Axe on the one hand – Weapon to remove obstacles
Second hand – as a whip to get rid of worldly pleasures
Third hand – a symbol of blessing for the devotee (Abhaya mudra)
Fourth hand – a reward for hard work
The elephant-headed God Ganesha has symbolic value and significant details that give us spiritual significance. While the elephant head symbolizes wisdom, the trunk is of success and moksha. The trunk is also shown as a capability to adapt to anything in this universe. The two tusks of Ganesha are symbols of emotions and wisdom. The four arms depict the mind, ego, intellect, and conscience. The axe, on one hand, is the weapon to repel evil or remove obstacles. Another hand has a whip that tells us to get rid of worldly pleasures or desires. The third hand symbolizes blessing for the devotee or protection, also called Abhaya mudra. The fourth hand generally holds the sweets modak or laddu, which is the reward for hard work by the devotee. The huge round belly of Ganesha is called a cosmic belly capable of holding the universe. The mouse at Ganesha’s foot is the vahana that he rides. The mouse can remove all obstacles and can also be represented as an ego that should be under control and humble like a devotee.
Ganapati Atharvashirsha is one of the Sanskrit texts popularly chanted and comes from Upanishad. As per Upanishads, it is beneficial to chant this regularly by a devotee for success and prosperity.
In Maharashtra, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor in various places. Some of the famous places where Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated prominently include:
1. Mumbai: The capital city of Maharashtra, Mumbai, is renowned for its grand and elaborate Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. The city hosts thousands of Ganesh idols in homes and public pandals, with the most famous being Lalbaugcha Raja and Siddhivinayak Temple.
2. Pune: Pune is another major city in Maharashtra known for its vibrant Ganesh Chaturthi festivities. The Ganpati idols at Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple and Kasba Ganpati are among the most revered.
3. Nashik: The city of Nashik is famous for its unique tradition of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with the immersion of idols in the holy Godavari River. The immersion procession here is a sight to behold.
4. Aurangabad: Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with immense devotion in Aurangabad. The Khadkeshwar Ganpati Temple and Siddharth Garden Ganpati Mandal are prominent places for celebrations.
5. Nagpur: Nagpur is known for its innovative and eco-friendly Ganesh idols. The Kala Darshini Ganesh Utsav Mandal is one of the prominent organizers of celebrations in the city.
6. Solapur: Solapur hosts grand processions and cultural programs during Ganesh Chaturthi. The Siddheshwar and Siddhatek Ganpati idols are popular in the region.
7. Ratnagiri: Ratnagiri, a coastal town, celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi with unique rituals and processions along the picturesque beaches.
Some of the special sweets made during Ganesh Chaturthi include
1. Modak: Modak is Lord Ganesha’s favorite sweet, and it’s considered the quintessential offering during this festival. Modak is a sweet dumpling typically made from rice flour or wheat flour and stuffed with a mixture of grated coconut, jaggery (or sugar), and cardamom. They can be steamed or fried.
2. Ukadiche Modak: This is a specific type of modak where the dumplings are steamed and are often made with a rice flour shell filled with a sweet coconut and jaggery mixture.
3. Karanji: Karanji, also known as Gujiya in some regions, is a deep-fried pastry filled with a sweet stuffing made from ingredients like grated coconut, jaggery, nuts, and cardamom. It is similar to a sweet empanada.
4. Puran Poli: Puran Poli is a sweet flatbread made from wheat flour and stuffed with a mixture of cooked chana dal (split chickpeas), jaggery, ghee, and cardamom. It is usually enjoyed with a dollop of ghee.
5. Coconut Ladoo: Coconut ladoos are small, round sweets made from grated coconut, condensed milk, and cardamom. They are easy to prepare and extremely popular during Ganesh Chaturthi.
6. Besan Ladoo: Besan ladoos are made from roasted gram flour (besan), ghee, sugar, and sometimes flavored with cardamom and garnished with nuts.
7. Chakli: Chakli is a savory snack that’s also prepared during Ganesh Chaturthi. However, some sweet variations, known as sweet chakli, are made using sugar or jaggery to give them a sweet twist.
8. Sheera: Sheera, also known as Suji Halwa or Kesari, is a sweet semolina pudding cooked with ghee, sugar, saffron, and garnished with nuts. It’s often offered as prasad during the festival.
9. Gulab Jamun: While not exclusive to Ganesh Chaturthi, Gulab Jamun is a beloved sweet that is often prepared during festive occasions. These deep-fried milk-based dumplings are soaked in sugar syrup.
10. Malpua: Malpua is a sweet pancake made from flour, milk, and sugar. It’s deep-fried and then soaked in sugar syrup. Variations include adding cardamom or saffron for flavor.
Some of the popular and beneficial mantras are as below:
- Sri Ganesha Moola Mantra- Om Gam Ganapataye Namah
- Ganesha mantra- Gam
Three popular Ganesha Gayatri Mantra:
- Om ektantaya vidmahey
Tanno danti prachodayat.
- Om Tatpurushaya vidmahey
Tanno danti prachodayat.
- Om Tat karataya vidmahey
Tanno danti prachodayat.