Ganesh Chaturthi, also called Vinayaka Chaturthi, in Hinduism, 10-day festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha, the god of prosperity and wisdom. It begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesh clay murtis privately in homes and publicly by Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak popularly known as Lokmanya Tilak in Pune in the year 1893 on elaborate pandals (temporary stages). Observations include chanting of vedic hymns and Hindu text such as, prayers and vrata (fasting).

The worship begins with the pranapratishtha, a ritual to invoke life in the idols, followed by shhodashopachara, or the 16 ways of paying tribute. Amid the chanting of Vedic hymns from religious texts like Ganesh Upanishad, the idols are anointed with red sandalwood paste and yellow and red flowers. Ganesha is also offered coconut, jiggery, and 21 modaks (sweet dumplings), considered to be Ganesha’s favourite food.

Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, championed it as a means to circumvent the colonial British government ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation in 1892. Though not alluding to the classical form of Ganapati, the earliest mention of Ganapati is found in the Rigveda. It appears twice in the Rigveda, once in shloka 2.23.1 as well as in shloka 10.112.9. both of these shlokas imply a role of Ganapati as “the seer among the seers” abounding beyond measure in food presiding among the elders and being the lord of an invocation”, while the shloka in mandala 10 states that without Ganapati “nothing nearby or afar is performed without thee”, according to Michael. However, it is uncertain that the Vedic term Ganapati which literally means “guardin of the multitudes”, referred specially to later era Ganesha, nor do the Vedic texts mention Ganesh Chaturthi, appears in post-Vedic texts such as Grhya Sutras and thereafter ancient Sanskrit.

Ganesh Chaturthi assumed the nature of a gala public celebration when the Maratha ruler Shivaji (c. 1630-80) used it to encourage nationalist sentiment among his subjects, who were fighting the Mughals. In 1893, when the British banned political assemblies the festival was revived by Indian nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Today the festival is celebrated in Hindu communities worldwide and is particularly popular in Maharashtra and parts of western India.

We wishes you a warm and happy Ganesh Chaturthi and hope you all enjoy it and have all the warm wishes of Ganesha and all ends well with keeping your environment clean.

For a free quiz on Ganesha click on गणेश चतुर्थी क्विज़ – Delhi Ki Gouri

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