By Anindita Dev
The birth of Ganesh - destroyer of obstacles, is celebrated across India with much gusto and merriment. With Ganesh Chaturthi just around the corner and amidst the hustle-bustle of its preparations, let's see how people all over the country celebrate it.
Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra
The chants of `Ganpati Bappa Morya` can be heard in the lanes and by lanes of Maharashtra on the auspicious days leading up to the festival of 'Ganesh Chaturthi'. The 10-day long festival is celebrated with much grandeur and in lively spirits across Mumbai and other cities of the state.
Several devotees are seen flocking outside the famous Siddhivinayaka temple during the festival. The temple which is devoted to Lord Ganesh is considered to be an extremely pious and religious spot for worshippers.
Everyone gets together to join in the celebrations, starting from establishing clay idols of the lord in their houses to make-shift pandals. Once the idol is established, the priests perform a ritual called Pran-Pratishtha, which includes reciting mantras to invoke the presence of Lord Ganesh.
After that, the devotees offer sweets, flowers, coins, jaggery, etc. to Ganapati in a ritual called Shodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute). Mumbai transforms into a cultural bonanza for these ten days with music, dance and other events taking place throughout the festival.
Traditionally, the festival comes to an end after 1,3,5,7 or 11 days when people come in large numbers to immerse the idol in river or in the sea. The procession known as Ananta Chaturdashi is carried off with a lot of splendour and joy in every street.
The significance of immersing the idol symbolises the Lord taking our sorrows along with him and returning again next year to protect us.
Celebrations in Tamil Nadu
Ganesh Chaturthi is considered as one of the most important festivals in Tamil Nadu. Known as Vinayakachaturthi or Pillayar Chaturthi. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is a matter of grandeur for the believers there, and is celebrated with a lot of zeal on the fourth day, after the new moon in the month of Avani appears.
Devotees deck up clay idols with bermuda grass, also known as 'asarukampul', and this ritual is known as Kaliman Pillayar.
Apart from this, the public roads set up huge idols of Ganesh and interestingly, some idols are made of coconut and other organic products. People all over Chennai throng to temples to worship and actively take part in the celebrations.
Celebrations in Kerala
When it comes to the magnificence of worshipping Lord Ganesh, Mumbai tops the list of all the other cities. But Kerala too has its own style of carrying out the rituals associated with Ganesh Chaturthi. The people of Kerala actively rejoice in this festival.
Falling in the month of Chingam, it is known as Vinayaka Chathurthi or Lamboodhara Piranalu.
Devotees not only visit the temples but also exhibit their artistic side through dance, music, skits, etc. which are organised in every locality. People worship the idols of Ganesh and also carry out the ritual of milk Abhishekam
There is also a belief among people that during the festival, if you break coconuts in temples, you get free of all sins. This is one such custom that is observed there every year during the auspicious occasion.
While people also worship elephants all over Kerala, the streets too are strewn with flowers and decorated with rangoli during Ganapati puja.
Celebrations in Goa
For Goan Hindus, Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the major festivals and it is a huge affair for them. This is a month-long celebration where preparations begin beforehand. Ganesh Chaturthi is known as Chavath and also as Parab. While keeping a fast on the third day of the lunar month of Bhadrapada, women also worship Shiva and Gauri.
Not only a hefty feast is organised, but also musical instruments associated with the Goan culture are played throughout the festival time.
One interesting thing about the Goan rituals which is unique in itself is that they worship Ganesh in the form of Patri (leaves), pictorial representation or in small idol forms.
Unlike the Maharashtrian way of celebration, the Goan Ganesh puja is a very homely affair. It's more of a family celebration rather than a public one.
Even though in essence, different parts of India have different rituals, the core of the festival is the belief that Ganesh is the destroyer of all hindrance and will bring prosperity to our lives.
Let's all join and chant, `Ganapati Bappa Morya`!