Ganesh is the primordial God who blesses everyone with prosperity and wellness. He is the God of wisdom and remover of obstacles. He is the Lord worshipped at the start of all the auspicious events and awards good rewards to the students, businessmen and others who worship him regularly in their life.
Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day in Shukla Paksha in the Bhadrapada month (August-September) and is also called Vinayakar Chaturthi or Chauvthi. It is celebrated all over India especially in Maharashtra, Goa and in places like Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is celebrated outside India in places like Nepal.
Ganesh is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. As per the ancient legends, Vinayaka was created by Goddess Parvathi as her doorkeeper when she went to take bath. Lord Shiva, after a long meditation on the Himalayas, came there and was stopped by Vinayaka from entering the place of Parvathi. The child did not know who Shiva was and as per the order of the Goddess, he prevented Shiva from entering the place. The enraged Shiva cut off his head and when He came to know who Ganesh was, he tried to redeem the situation.
Lord Shiva sent His Ganas (attendants) to find a face that could fit Vinayaka. The attendants brought the face of an elephant which was fixed upon the head of Vinayaka and he was given life by Lord Shiva. The day Vinayaka was created has been observed as the birthday of the God and it falls on the Shukla Paksha Chaturthi in the month of Avani. Those who pray to Him on this day by making a clay idol of His figure are granted whatever they wish from this primary God.
There is a legend regarding how Vinayaka Chathurthi came into existence. All of us know that Vinayaka is known for His big belly. When He walks, His belly also dances with Him. On one occasion, Vinayaka was laughed at by the Moon God when He was not able to walk steadily with His pot belly. The enraged Vinayaka cursed The Moon that he would wane and would not shed light on the Universe thereafter. When the world went into darkness, all the Devas and rishis pleaded with Vinayaka for mercy on behalf of Chandran. Then the compassionate Lord Excused the Moon and said that he would be completely dark on one day (that is Amavasya) and will start waxing every day. He will wax for 15 days and wane for the remaining 15 days.
Those who see the Moon on the fourth day after the No Moon day in Bhadrapada month (Avani) will suffer from false accusations in life as it is not auspicious to see the Moon on that day. If they pray to Lord Vinayaka on the Shukla Paksha Chaturthi day in the month of Avani, that is on the day of Vinayaka Chathurthi, they will get rid of their accusations and will live happily in life. Thus, Vinayaka Chathurthi came into existence.
We remember that even Lord Krishna suffered from false accusations when he tried to recover Chamanthaka Mani from various hands. Read to know How did Krishna get rid of his sorrows.
The references to Lord Ganesh are found twice in Rig Veda.
Afterwards, there are references to the greatness of the Lord in Skanda Purana and other religious scriptures.
Vinayaka Chaturthi has been celebrated over centuries by the Hindus all over India.
It was Sathrapathi Sivaji who popularised this festival as a cultural event and made it a grand festival in Maharashtra.
Peshwa dynasty also followed the same cult.
During the war of Indian Independence, Lokmanya Tilak used the celebration of Vinayaka Chaturthi to bridge the gap between communities and made it a grand national festival.
Today, the festival is celebrated in all the States of India with grandeur and pomp.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrated for 10 days starting from Vinayaka Chathurthi, that is, Shukla Paksha Chaturthi in Avani.
Very big idols of Vinayaka made of clay or other material are brought to the pandal (a grand platform in a public place) and pooja and prasadam are offered to the God every day.
On the tenth day, people take the idol in a procession and immerse it in a water body like lake or river with slogans in the glory of Lord Ganesh.
People of Maharashtra and Goa consider this festival as the most important religious and cultural event for them.
People normally make an idol out of clay or buy one like that and keep the idol in their pooja room.
Chanting slokas and reciting Ganapathy Atharva Sheersham, Vinayak Puranam, or Skanda Puranam with reference to Ganesh are done with reverence.
Modhakam, laddu and kozhukkattai are the favourite dishes of Lord Vinayaka. These are offered as neivedhyam on this day.
Offering Dhruva grass to Vinayaka on this day is special and arka (erukku) garland is also offered.
Vinayaka is the favourite God of the old and the young. He crosses age boundaries and communities and is liked by one and all as the foremost God in Hindu religion. Seeking the blessings of this God of wisdom on His birthday is the way to attain greatness in life.
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