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What is Ganesh Chaturthi? Why is it celebrated?

  [Ruchi]

What is Ganesh Chaturthi? Why is it celebrated?

Lord Ganesha is worshipped on a number of religious and ceremonial occasions, particularly at the beginning of new activities such as buying a house or a professional venture. It is almost impossible to find a Hindu family that does not worship Lord Ganesha. It is believed that when Lord Ganesha is pleased before initiating a venture, one’s endeavor surely leads to success. Lord is always worshiped before all important personal, professional and ritual undertakings. To seek success, prosperity and protection against adversity, every Hindu family worships Ganesha.

One of the most popular festivals in India is Ganesh Chaturthi that occurs in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of August/September and the Ganesh Jayanti (Ganesha's birthday) celebrated on the fourth day of the waxing moon in January/February. This festival honours Ganesha for ten days. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolizing Ganesha's visit.

The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most suitable and appropriate water body. Some families have a custom of immersing Ganesha on the second, third, fifth, or seventh day. In the year 1893, Lokmanya Tilak changed this yearly Ganesha celebration from individual family festivity into an open occasion for all people. He did this to build unity between people in his nationalistic mission against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide claim as "the god for common man", Tilak picked this as a revitalizing point for India’s dissent against British standard.

Today, Hindus commence the Ganapati celebration with great enthusiasm especially in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The celebration witnesses colossal gatherings of devotees in Mumbai, Pune, and in the encompassing belt of Ashtavinayaka temples in the state. During the festival, people engage in devotional services such as organizing Ganesh Mandala, offering prayers and chanting the most celebrated mantra Om Gam GanapatayeNamah. In south India, there are art performances such as Bharatnatyam, dances and other spiritual exhibitions displayed as means to worship Ganesha. People offer Lord Ganesha sweets such as modaka and sweet balls called laddus. He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra.

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