The Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi

The Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi

Aarti Natarajan Sharma

Lord Ganesh is one of the most popularly worshipped Hindu Gods. He is typically worshipped before the start of anything new. The birthday of Lord Ganesh is known as Ganesh Chaturthi and this year it falls on 10th September. 

Birth of Ganesha

Lord Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. There is a very interesting story behind his birth or creation. Once Goddess Parvati felt lonely in Shiva’s long absence. She had no one to call her own whom she could talk with or spend time with. She then created an image of a child from the sandalwood/turmeric paste on her own body and infused life into it. So endearing was this child that she called him her son. She enjoyed playing with him. When it was time for her royal bath, she gave the boy, her son, express instructions to not let anyone in—no matter who they were. After some time, Lord Shiva returned home and when he tried to enter, the boy prevented him from. After a long round of discussions and arguments, there ensured a battle where eventually, Lord Shiva severed the boy’s head with his trident. When Goddess Parvati learned of what had happened, she was distraught and furious. She ordered Lord Shiva to make Ganesh alive again. But the force of Lord Shiva’s blow had been such that his head couldn’t be found. Lord Shiva instructed his disciples to go and bring back the head of the first live being they came across. This happened to be a dying elephant. The ganas brought back the head of the elephant and Lord Shiva placed it on the boy’s body, infusing life into him. So, the elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesh was created. In keeping with the condition of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva declared that Lord Ganesh would be worshipped before the start of anything new. 

The Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day long festival which is celebrated with a lot of pomp especially in Western India. At the start of the festival Ganesh idols are placed on an elevated platform or in outdoor decorated tents. The worship begins with pranapratishtha (invoking life into the idols) followed by shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute). Red and yellow flowers are offered daily along with sweets like laddoos which is considered to be Lord Ganesh’s favourite food. At the end of the festival, the idols are carried and immersed into the river, signifying his return journey to Mount Kailash, the place where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati reside. 

Ganesh Chaturthi is a joyous festival, celebrating the various traits of Lord Ganesh, who is known as the god of prosperity and wisdom. The occasion is marked with exchanging greetings and gifts and singing devotional songs in praise of Lord Ganesh. Devotees of Lord Ganesh exchange gifts dedicated to him like prayer books (Ganesh Chalisa), a collection of books on Lord Ganesh (Shree Ganesh Nitya Aaradhana) and generic Bhakti boxes. 

The Shree Ganesh Nitya Aradhana is one of the most popular gifts during the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. It comprises of the Ganesh Aarti, Ganesh Vandana Sankatnashan, Ganesh Strota, Ganesh Chalisa, Shree Ganesh Shatnamavali and Shree Ganesh Sarastranamavali.  It makes for a wonderful gift to devotees of Lord Ganesh and is considered auspicious to just keep in the house. 

Any collection of devotional books which includes the Ganesh Chalisa or the Ganesh Aarti are also considered to be good gifts for devotees. Even if one is not religious, just keeping a Bhakti box at home is said to provide positive vibrations and bring about prosperity in the house. You can also look for options where some kind of customisation is available, like inscribing a person’s name or having a photograph. Personalised gifts are always welcome as they reflect on your thoughtfulness. 

Worshipping Lord Ganesh is said to bring about the following

  • Prosperity
  • Wisdom
  • Removal of obstacles
  • Patience
  • Good thinking
  • Good fortune