Ganesh festival is celebrated throughout India with great respect and fanfare. It is said that during the festival time Lord Ganesha himself comes on earth and blesses every devotee who enthuses firm faith in him. According to Pauranic stories, Ganesh festival is symbolic of the celebration of the occasion when Lord Shiva had declared that his younger son, Lord Ganesh would find first place in order of worship of any god. In other words, Lord Ganesha was made superior to all other Gods after the couples Lakshmi and Vishnu; and Parvati and Shiva. In India traditionally, prior to the beginning of any new work or any auspicious occasion, Lord Ganesha is invoked so that the venture is refrained from any hurdle, glitches or bad fortune. Lord Ganesha also symbolizes wisdom, well-being, good fortune and prosperity. Ganeshotsav is made of two Hindi words – Ganesh and Utsav (Festival) or in other words, Ganeshotsav simply means "festival of Ganesha". The festival is celebrated during the month of Bhaadrapada according to Hindu Calendar which starts on the Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period) and ends on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period). These dates from Hindu Calendar generally coincides with and between 19th August to 20th September every year according to Gregorian Calendar. The Ganesh festival is celebrated for 10 days in all.
The devotees of Lord Ganesh are widely spread and the festival is celebrated both in India and abroad. However, India it is more extensively celebrated in the western states of Maharashtra and Goa. In the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, there are abundant devotees who celebrate Ganeshotsava with complete zeal and enthusiasm. The festival is also extensively celebrated outside India in the countries like Nepal and by the Indian Hindus residing in the United States, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.
The credit for celebrating Ganesh Festival among the masses goes to the great Maratha ruler Shivaji. He started the Ganesh Festival for uniting his subjects and enthusing the feeling of nationalism in them. However, the great freedom fighter during the British rule, Bal Gangadhar Tilak re-started the festival in 1882 in the real modern sense to bring the Indians on a single platform. The platform was used to communicate the messages of national freedom, unite the people of the state and bring an attitudinal in the people to fight the British. People from all strata of the society irrespective of any class or caste differences took part in the festival and thus acted as a cohesive force for uniting people. The festival generally provided a wide platform from where nationalist and patriotic messages were delivered to motivate people against the colonial rule.
Legend Behind Ganesh Chaturthi
According to Puranas and Hindu mythology, Ganesha was son of Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. As Goddess Parvati was cursed that she could not give birth to any child naturally, Ganesha was created by her out of paste of sandalwood which she used to apply during her bathing rituals. Finally she gave life to her creation. On one occasion, she gave Ganesha the duty to guard the gates of the place where she was taking bath. In the meantime Lord Shiva came to meet Goddess Parvati but he was not allowed to enter inside by Ganesha. Lord Shiva thus ordered his follower-ghosts to teach the lesson to the child. As Ganesha was son of Parvati, his powers outmatched the powers of army of Lord Shiva and defeated them. Even, the sage of heavens, Narada, tried to mediate to bring agreement but yielded no positive results. Then, Indra, the king of Gods, waged war against the child to save his reputation. But his whole army was defeated by Lord Ganesha. Finally, the trinity of the Universe, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva who are progenitor, preserver and destroyer of the Universe respectively, united to defeat the little child. In the war that followed, Lord Shiva cut the head of Ganesha. Goddess Parvati was enraged by this heinous act of the God and set herself on destroying the Universe. The Gods realized their fault and finally bowed down to her demand of bringing back Ganesha to life. The Gods searched in all the directions for a head of any living creature. Finally, they got head of a baby elephant which was at once brought and fitted over Ganesha body. In this way, Ganesha came back to life with an elephant head.
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is observed in the honour of Lord Ganesha, the elephant- headed hindu deity. The festival is celebrated during the month of Bhaadrapada according to Hindu Calendar which starts on the Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period) and ends on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period). These dates from Hindu calendar generally coincide with and between 19th August to 20th September every year according to Gregorian Calendar. In Indian religious beliefs ensures that prior to the beginning of any new work or on any auspicious occasion, Lord Ganesha must be invoked to ward off any evil, hurdle, glitches or bad fortune. It is believed that worshipping Lord Ganesha ensures the success of any new work, venture or event.
The celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi is splendid all over India specially in western state of Maharashtra. The festival celebrations may go from a week to around ten days. Almost all the houses are decorated and lighted with lamps. The festival starts with the installation of the Ganesh idol on an elevated platform. Priest performs the related important rituals and worships the Ganesh idol. The most favorite sweet dish of Lord Ganesha is Modak which is prepared from coconut, sugar and rice-flour, is offered to the Lord. In the following days, Lord Ganesha is worshipped, incense sticks and dhoop is lit, mantras and religious songs are sung and his blessings are seeked by the devotees. Many establish the idols at their homes and pray with their family.
Ganesh Chathurthi Recipes
Besan Ke Ladoo
Besan Ke Laddoo is prepared by pulse-flour and sugar fried in edible oils. BesanKke Laddoo and Modak are favorite sweets of Lord Ganesha. Invariably, any auspicious occasion starts with the worship of Lord Ganesha and so Besan ke Laddoo and modaks have become synonymous with any worship in India.
Modak is prepared by mixing coconut powder with sugar and milk products. Lord Ganesha likes Modak the most and his worship is considered half-way without offering this sweets. This is the reason one finds every sweet shop in Maharashtra located around Ganesha temple selling Modaks.
Motichoor Ke Ladoo
Motichoor Laddu is another sweets which is considered very favourite to Lord Ganesha. The preparation is quite similar to besan ke laddoo, only difference is that the preparation is dip in sugary syrup.
Moong Dal Ka Halwa
Sweets and sweet dishes are the favorites to Lord Ganesha. This is very well taken care of while making preparations for offering to the diety. Moong Dal Ka Halwa is one of those delicacies which finds a confirmed place in the offerings to the Lord.
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