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Ganesh Chaturthi also called Vinayaka chavithi, is an auspicious Hindu festival that is celebrated for 10 days every year. This holiday in India is celebrated in Bandra month as per the Hindu calendar which generally falls in August to September. It marks the birthday of beloved elephant-headed Lord Ganesha. This is one of the most awaited holidays in India where thousands of devotees gather on to the streets to celebrate the festival.
How Do Local People Celebrate in India
Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day long festival which is celebrated at a large scale in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. People offer prayers at home or in temples.
Ganesh Chaturthi at Home
In homes, people bring small and colorful clay statues of Lord Ganesha to be worshipped during the festival. Flowers and durva or the young grass, karanji and modaks are offered during the morning and evening worshipping sessions. In Maharashtra, the Marathi aarti composed by the 17th-century saint Samarth Ramdas "Sukhakarta Dukhaharta" is sung in honor of Lord Ganesha. Families decide for how long they will worship Ganesha at home. It is usually for one and a half-day, three, five, seven or eleven days. In Goa, Konkani culture is followed. Lord Vishnu and Parvati are worshipped by the fasting women of the families. Two-headed drums and crash cymbals are played all through the rituals.
Ganesh Chaturthi at Public
Government, communities, locals, Big businessmen, etc organizes big Ganesh festivals for the public. Funds are collected by the people days before the festival begins. The beautifully decorated idols and statues of Lord Ganesha are made and brought up in Mandaps. Several society betterment activities take place such as blood donation camps, free medical check-ups, donation of food and clothes for needy people, etc. On the last day of the festival, the statues are paraded through the streets accompanied by singing and dancing. They are moved to the ocean where these statues or idols are immersed inside the water. It is said that approximately 150,000 statues are immersed every year.
Famous Rituals Performed During This Festival
One of the most performed rituals is known as Pranapratishhtha Puja, After the statues are made, a ceremony is performed to invoke the holy presence into the statue. After this, another ceremony is performed by offering sweets, coins, flowers, rice, coconuts to God.
Prayers are offered to Ganesha idols in 16 different ways where people celebrate by singing, praying, dancing to drum beats and even light firecrackers. The last Ritual of Uttarpuja is performed which is about bidding farewell to Ganesha with deep respect. This is followed by Ganpati Visarjan, a ceremony where idol or statue is immersed in the water. People chant ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ which means ‘goodbye lord, please come back next year’.
Ganesh Chaturthi Significance
It is believed that devotees who pray to Ganesha can fulfill their wishes and desires. Devotees are relaxed from all their sins and prayers lead them to knowledge and wisdom.
People who bring Ganesha idols and Statues at their home believe that Lord Ganesha will solve all their problems and give them the strength to fight with all the obstacles in their life. It is believed that praying two times a day brings positive energy in their homes.
Advice from Locals in India for Visiting on this Holiday
Mumbai is Maharashtra is considered to be the best place to visit during the time of Ganesh Chaturthi. It is the most loved holiday in Mumbai. It is days before the festival when you can see the vibes of the festival all over the city where huge idols or statues of Lord Ganesha are built by skilled artisans. Statues are formed in different shapes and sizes where the tallest statue may reach up to 70 feet above the ground.
You can see several Mandal or temporary shrine set up which serves as the base for daily community worship with live music, distribution of sweets and lively conversations. The vibes, excitement, enthusiasm remains the same during all the 10 days of the festival. If you do not want to stay for all the 10 days, you should try to attend the last day of the festival on the streets of Mumbai. There is a parade in which statues are loaded up on the trucks. There is music, dance, firecrackers, excitement all over the streets. It is a great opportunity to witness a ten-day-long festival that ends with the immersion of statues into the water.
Tips from Locals
You can expect millions of people on the street dancing, singing and burning crackers all over. This causes a lot of traffic, pollution and overcrowded streets.
Some of the tips to travel during Ganesh Chaturthi
- If you hate large crowds, try to witness the immersion of statutes and idols on the 11th day where local people come to immerse small statutes into the water.
- Try to attend the festival early in the evening as the crowd gets worse later.
- Avoid carrying expensive gadgets and belonging as pickpocketing is always a danger in large crowds.
- Carry an umbrella, waterproof jackets or shoes, etc as this festival happens at the end of monsoon and heavy rain is usually expected at this time.
- Try to visit the city’s Siddhivinayak Mandir but be prepared to stand in lines for hours.
- There are several tour packages available during this time which is not very expensive.
Overall Feeling in India during this Festival
Ganesh Chaturthi is largely celebrated among millions of Hindus not only in India but all over the world. Preparation is visible days before the festival on the streets. People purchase sweets, decorate materials, statues or idols of Lord Ganesha from the market. Several communities gather and enjoy the festival of happiness and strength with great harmony. This 10-day festival is a much-awaited festival for thousands of people who believe that Ganesha will visit their homes, remove all the negativity from their lives and leave on the 10th day.
Millions of people walk on the street on the 10th day to immerse the idol or statue of the Lord into the ocean. There is loud music, dance, sweets, fireworks, prayers everywhere you look. Overall Feeling that this festival gives is of positivity, togetherness, happiness and believe in God.