By: Swagata Borah, The North-Eastern Chronicle
Visual by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah
India is a secular country having diverse religions, languages, customs, and traditions and this is the reason that celebration of various festivals can be observed throughout the year in the nation. The celebration in the name of divinities is most prominent in the country.
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most celebrated festivals of India that marks the beginning of festivals of worshiping deities in the country. People here, bide one’s time the whole year for this festival. Although it is celebrated all over the country, in the state of Maharashtra it is celebrated with the most ardent.
They welcome Lord Ganesha in their homes with this festival with the belief that he will remove all their sufferings. Ganesh Chaturthi sparks joy all over the country and unties people with celebrations.
Lord Ganesha is known to be the God of wealth, sciences, knowledge, wisdom and prosperity, and that’s why people mostly from the Hindu community seek his blessings before starting any important work. Lord Ganesh is known by 108 different names like Gajanana, Vinayaka, Vighnaharta etc. The festival is celebrated with great devotion and delight by Hindus throughout the world.
History of the event
As per the first story, Devi Parvati created Lord Ganesha out of dirt from her body to guard her in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the task of guarding her bathroom door while she took a bath. In the meantime, Shiva returned home and Ganesha, who didn’t know who Shiva was, stopped him.
This angered Shiva and he severed Ganesha’s head after a tiff between the two. Parvati was enraged when she came to know about this; Lord Shiva, in turn, promised to get Ganesha back to life. The devas were sent to search for a child’s head facing north but they could only find an elephant’s head. Shiva fixed the elephant’s head on the child’s body, and that is how Ganesha was born.
However, despite this there is another tale that claims that the Devas requested Shiva and Parvati to create Ganesha so that he can be a Vighnakarta (creator of obstacles) for rakshasas (demons), thus being a Vighnaharta (averter of obstacles) and helping Devas. It is considered that devotees who pray to Ganesha are able to fulfil their wishes and desires.
There are primarily four rituals that are practiced during the 10-day long festival. They are namely: Pran Pratishtha, Shhodashopachara, Uttarpuja, and Ganpati Visarjan. The idols of the deity are installed in beautifully decorated ‘pandal’ at homes, temples or localities.
The statue is also decorated with flowers, garlands and lights. A ritual called Pran Pratishtha is observed where a priest chants mantra to invoke life in the deity. Hereafter, prayers and hymns are offered to Ganesha’s idol in 16 different ways.
Lastly, Uttar Puja ritual is practiced that bids farewell to Ganesha with deep respect. This is followed by Ganpati Visarjan, a ceremony wherein the statue is now immersed in water.
While carrying the statue to the sea and while immersing it, people generally chant in the Marathi language ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya,Fudlya Varshi Laukariya’ which means ‘Goodbye Lord, please come back next year’.