Religion in India is still a living force and Indians appreciate and cultivate the festival spirit even in this age of industrialization and political upheavals. Ganesh Festivals bring people together and make the nation move forward and grow. Ganesh Festival is very popular in our country.
The birth of Lord Ganesh is on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad Shukla (August/September). This festival is celebrated for 10 days from Ganesh Chaturthi - birth-date-to Anant Chaturdashi - the final 10th day of his immersion. Everyone loves this deity with his curving trunk, potbelly and big flat ears. He is the benevolent protector of the innocent, yet the ruthless destroyer of evil. His mount is a rat.
In several states of India, but especially in Maharashtra clay idols of Ganesh in varying sizes are made and sold. The idols are purchased and brought home the day previous to Ganesh Chaturthi, which is the day of Hartalik when women keep fast and invoke the blessings of goddess Parvati, who is Ganesh's mother.
In streets and commercial establishments community worship is offered to a life-size or even a bigger image, installed on an erected platform. Lord Ganesh is very fond of sweets and hence kheer, panchamrit, fruits and sweets and specially modaks are placed before him as "Naivedya"
. After the ritual worship this "Bhog"
is distributed as "Prasad"
On the day of immersion, which is either on 3rd, 5th, 7th or 10th day after performing the "Puja"
, the idol is taken out in a procession by people who dance and sing. On the 10th day - the Anant Chaturdashi day, the sea fronts are packed with surging mass of humanity as the idols of Ganesh are carried towards their watery rest among shouts of "Ganapati Bappa Moriya, Pudhachya varshi lavkar ya" (Return early next year, Oh Victorious Lord Ganesh).
Many interesting legends about the birth and the greatness of Lord Ganesh are found in old ancient religious texts. He is considered to be the god of wisdom, prudence and prosperity. The worship of this god is coming down to us right from the Vedic times. Every religious ceremony is completed even today with invoking his blessings at the very beginning with the solemn recitation of "Om Ganeshaya Namaha"
(I bow to Thee Lord Ganesh). It is believed that Lord Ganesh put down on paper the shlokas of our great epic Mahabharat as Maharshi Ved Vyas dictated them to him. Sant Gyaneshwar's Gyaneshwari starts with praise of Lord Ganesh.
Since the days of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj the founder of the Maratha Empire this Ganesh Festival was celebrated on a grand scale in Pune and later on the Peshwas themselves participated in this festival, as Ganesh was their family deity. Today this festival is the most colourful and happy event in the religious, social and cultural life of India specially that of Pune and Mumbai.