Vinayaka Chaturthi – also known as Ganesh Chaturthi – is a Hindu holiday festival that is observed on on the fourth waxing moon day during the month of Bhadrapada. This is around August or September on the Gregorian Calendar. The festival ends after a ten day period – on the fourteenth day of the waxing moon. The purpose of this festival is to honor the god Ganesha, also known as Vinayaka.
While the origins of this festival is unknown, many people believe that it goes back to the Maratha castes of the seventeenth century. During this time, Chhatrapati Shivaji declared it a public event to strengthen national pride. Later during the nineteenth century, Bal Gangadhar made it a public holiday that could be enjoyed by all.
Customs, Traditions And Celebrations
Several months before the start of Vinayaka Chaturthi, a large clay statue of Ganesha is crafted. There is no set size limit for this idol, it can be smaller than an inch or be over twenty feet tall, depending on the person making it. This idol is then either placed in homes or set up in specially made tents so that people can pay respect to it.
After the idol has been placed in view, it is then usually visited by priests. these priests then chant mantras over the idol. This ritual, also known as Pranapratishhtha, is done to breathe life into the idol. Afterwards, people pay respect to the idol by offering it all kinds of different items. These items can include modakas, coconut and red flowers. A sandalwood paste is then applied to the idol to anoint it.
For the next ten days, the idol is worshiped. On the eleventh day, it is then carried through the streets for all to see. When this has concluded, people once again pay homage to it one last time before it is taken to the river and submersed.
Vinayaka Chaturthi is a holiday festival that allows people to call on the power of Ganesh and to receive help from him in removing all of the obstacles that hinder their spiritual or mental path. It is also a time to ask for help in developing spiritual strength and resolve. It is a festival of great hope, joy and celebration that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of class or wealth.