ചിങ്ങമാസത്തിലെ ചതുർഥി ദിവസത്തിൽ ആഘോഷിക്കപ്പെടുന്ന ഒരുത്സവമാണ് വിനായക ചതുർഥി. പ്രധാന ആരാധനാ മൂർത്തി ഗണപതി(ഗണേശൻ) ആയതിനാൽ ഗണേശ ചതുർഥി എന്നും ഇതിന് പേരുണ്ട്. മഹാരാഷ്ട്രയിലും മറ്റ് ഉത്തരേന്ത്യൻ സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളിലുമാണ് ഇത് ഏറ്റവും അധികം ആഘോഷിക്കപ്പെടുന്നത്. ഈ ദിവസം ആളുകൾ ഗണപതി വിഗ്രഹങ്ങൾ വാങ്ങി അലങ്കരിക്കുകയും പൂജിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു. പൂജക്കായി താമരയും കറുകപ്പുല്ലും മോദകം എന്ന മധുരപലഹാരവും ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നു. ചതുർഥി ദിവസത്തേത്തുടർന്ന് നടക്കുന്ന ഗണേശോത്സവം പത്ത് ദിവസം നീണ്ട് നിൽക്കുന്നു. ഉത്സവത്തിന് ശേഷം ഗണപതി വിഗ്രഹങ്ങൾ പുഴയിലോ, കടലിലോ ഒഴുക്കുന്നതോടെ ആഘോഷങ്ങൾ സമാപിക്കുന്നു. അടുത്ത വർഷവും ഗണപതി വരണേയെന്ന പ്രാർത്ഥനയോടെയാണ് വിഗ്രഹങ്ങൾ ഒഴുക്കിവിടുന്നത്.
Ganesha Chaturthi Legend
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.
Ganesha Chaturthi Celebration, Rituals and Tradition
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.
The priest, usually clad in red or white dhoti and uttariyam (Shawl), then with the chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesha using the statue as a channel, or body for his energy. This ritual is the Pranapratishhtha. After this the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of kumkum and sandalwood paste. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
Ganesh Chaturthi History
Some homes buy their own small clay statue, and after 1,3,5,7 or 11 days immerse it in a bucket or tub at home, so as not to pollute public lakes or rivers. After a few days the clay is used in the home garden.
The main sweet dish during the festival is the modak (modak in Marathi, modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka in Kannada and modagam in Tamil). A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada) which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has a semicircular shape.
In Andhra, kudumu (rice flour dumplings stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture), Vundrallu (steamed coarsely grounded rice flour balls), Panakam (jaggery, black pepper and cardamom flavored drink), Vadapappu (soaked and moong lentils), Chalividi (cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture), etc., are offered to Ganesha along with Modakams. These offerings to god are called Naivedyam in Telugu. In Andhra, Clay Ganesh (Matti Vinayakudu in Telugu) and Turmeric Ganesh (Siddhi Vinayakudu in Telugu) is usually worshipped at homes along with plaster of paris Ganesha.
Public celebrations of the festival are hugely popular, with local communities (mandalas) vying with each other to put up the biggest statue and the best pandal. The festival is also the time for cultural activities like singing and theater performances, orchestra and community activities like free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, etc.
Today, the Ganesh Festival is not only a popular festival, it has become a very critical and important economic activity for Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Many artists, industries, and businesses survive on this mega-event. Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many other religions also participate in the celebration like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others. In Mangalore, there is a belief that the eldest son of the home should be present during pooja.
Ganesh Chaturthi in Outside India
Tamil dancers on the streets of Paris during the 2009 Ganesh Chaturthi festiva. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the UK by the migrant Hindu population as well as the large number of Indians residing there. The Hindu culture and Heritage Society, UK - a Southall based organisation celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi for the first time in London in 2005 at The Vishwa Hindu Temple. The Idol was immersed in the river Thames at Putney Pier. Another celebration organised by an Gujarati group has been celebrated in the Southend-on-Sea which attracts over 18000 devotees. Annual celebrations also take place on the River Mersey at Liverpool.
The festival is similarly celebrated in many locations across the world. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, an organisation of Hindus based in the US organises many such events to mark the Hindu festivals.
In USA, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by various associations of people from India. (Various Indian Associations of North America and in Temples across USA.)
The Philadelphia Ganesh popularly known as PGF is the largest Sarvajanik (fully contributed by public funds) Hindu festival in North America. Since 2005 the festival is conducted every year in Bharatiya Temple, Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The 10 days are marked by processions, devotional programs, cultural events, India filmi-orchestra and a weekend carnival. While the Marathi community plays a big role in organising the festival, participation from all communities such as Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, North Indian, Bengali etc. is seen as the reason for its success and uniqueness.
In Canada, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by associations of Marathi-speaking people. (MBM in Toronto, MSBC in Vancouver, etc.)
Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius dates back to 1896. The first Ganesh Chaturthi Puja was held in the 7 Cascades Valley next to Henrietta village by the Bhiwajee family who is still celebrating this pious festival for more than a century. Over the years the festival gained such popularity on the island that Mauritian government has attributed a public holiday for that day.
In Malaysia and Singapore, the festival is more commonly known as Vinayagar Chakurthi because of the relatively larger Tamil-speaking Hindu minority among the other South Asian ethnic groups. It is very common to see pictures or statues of Lord Ganesha at the entrance of homes, business premises and schools. These idols are usually decorated with flower garlands alongside offerings of fruits and sweets. Most Ganesha temples mark Vinayagar Chaturthi with morning prayers, abhishegam (ritual bathing of the deity) and free vegetarian lunch for devotees and the poor. Chariot processions organised by Ganesha temples in the evenings often attract huge crowds of devotees and tourists.