Ganesha Chaturthi or Ganesha Festival is a day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees. It is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi in Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu, Chavath( चवथ ) in Konkani and Chathaa (चथा) in Nepali Bhasa.
It is celebrated as it is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). Typically, the day usually falls between 20 August and 15 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi . This festival is observed in the lunar month of bhadrapada shukla paksha chathurthi madhyahana vyapini purvaviddha. If Chaturthi prevails on both days, the first day should be observed. Even if chaturthi prevails for complete duration of madhyahana on the second day, but if it prevails on previous day’s madhyahana period even for oneghatika (24 minutes) the previous day should be observed.
Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra, Goa (Biggest festival for Konkani people all over the world), Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu andAndhra Pradesh, and other areas which were former states of the Maratha Empire. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal which was only Hindu Kingdom in the world and Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka.
Vakrtund Mahakaya Surya Koti Samaprabha |
Nirbhignam Kurumedaya Sarva Karyashu Sarvada |
Before 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi used to be an important public festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra, but that year, Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual festival into a large, well-organized public event.
Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesh as “the god for everybody”, and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order “to bridge the gap betweenBrahmins and ‘non-Brahmins’ and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”, and generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule.
Tilak encouraged installation of large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, sea, or other pools of water all public images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
Under Tilak’s encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the form of intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, performances of plays, musical concerts, and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to to exercise control over the population, the British Rule discouraged social and political gatherings.