Ganesh Chaturthi, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Vinayaka Chavithi
Ganesh Chaturthi, the great Ganesha festival Celebrated on the birtday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati. Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. The festival is observed in the Hindu Calendar month of Bhaadrapada (Bhadra), starting on the shukla chaturthi. The date usually falls between mid-August to mid-September.
While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius,Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.
How to Celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi festival?
Two to three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated and depict Lord Ganesh in vivid poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet. The tallest Ganesha Idol made which stood 117 feet tall was situated in the city of Visakhapatnam in 2012.
Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mandapas (pandals) in every locality. The pandals are erected by the people or a specific society or locality or group by collecting monetary contributions. The pandals are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events.
Traditional ganesh hindu stories tell that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvathi, consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva returned and, as Ganesha didn’t know him, he didn’t allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged and asked his follower ghosts to teach the child some manners. Ganesha was very powerful, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of shakti (or power). He defeated the ghost-followers (called “Ghana”s) and declared nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing. The sage of heavens, Narada, along with the Saptarshi (the seven wise rishis) sensed a growing turmoil and went to appease the boy with no results. Angered, the king of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn’t stand a chance. By then, this issue had become a matter of pride for Parvathi and Shiva.
After the devas were defeated, the trinity, the controller, preserver and destroyer of the universe launched an attack against Ganesha. Amidst the fighting, Shiva severed the head of the child. And brought on Parvathi’s rage. Seeing her son dead, Parvathi revealed her true self, as the Adi-shakti, the prime energy that fuels the universe and sustains matter. Taking on a terrible form, she vowed to destroy the universe where her son was killed and re-create a better one. The Gods prostrated before her and Shiva promised that her son will live again. The trinity hunted the world for a head and came across a mother elephant crying for her dead baby. They consoled the mother and fixed the head of the baby elephant in place of Ganesha’s head. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day, the boy would be called as “Ganesha” (Gana-Isha : lord of the Ganas). In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God.
According to the Linga Purana, Ganesha was created by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at the request of the Devas for being a Vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of Rakshasas, and a Vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the Devas achieve fruits of their hard work.