Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is an Indian festival celebrated to honour the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This annual occasion is observed by the whole of Hindu community with great fervor and piety.
It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born on a fourth day (Chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Magh. Since then, an association between Ganesh and Chaturthi has been established. Thus the festival dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha is named as Ganesh Chaturthi. The festivity of Ganesh Chaturthi, ends after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi which is also known as Ganesh Visarjan day
Out of all the stories linked to the history of this festival, the most common one dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that Parvati is the creator of Ganesha. The story says that Parvati used her sandalwood paste and created Ganesha in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the work of guarding her bathroom door while she was bathing. After Shiva returned home, Ganesha and Shiva got into a tiff due to which Shiva severed the head of the child. Witnessing this site, Parvati got enraged and Lord Shiva promised getting Ganesh back to life. The followers searched for a child’s head facing north, and the first that they found was an elephant’s head. And that’s how our Gajanana was born!
Ganesh Chaturthi is said to have been celebrated since the days of Maratha rulers: Satavahana, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta. Ganesh Chaturthi was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji as a public event to promote traditions and nationalism, this festival was even celebrated by Peshwas to worship Ganapati as their family deity.
The festivities remained a family affair until the festival was revitalised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the late 19th Century, to take the message of freedom struggle to all Indians. This festival brought in a feeling of unity and togetherness in Indians that helped in revival of their patriotic spirit. Through the medium of this festival he brought together all the classes of societies against British by getting rid of the caste differences. He stressed on it that Ganesh Chaturthi was a festival for everyone irrespective of the caste or class, and so he organised cultural events like dance dramas, musical nights, and religious gatherings on this festival. That was the time when social and political gatherings weren’t allowed by the British. Festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi that continued for ten days gave people of every religion the scope to interact and know each other. It is from that time this festival has been celebrated every year with great fervour all over the country.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated throughout India. However, it is celebrated elaborately in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa. It is also celebrated in places outside India which have a fair share of the Hindu population.
This year Ganesh Chaturthi will be on Monday, the 25th of August 2017!