Vinayak Chaturthi »

Vinayak Chaturthi also known as Ganesha Chaturthi is the Hindu festival of Ganesha also called Vinayagar in Tamil Nadu, the son of Shiva and Parvati, who is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival. It is the day Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods. Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.

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The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 15 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Singapore and Fiji.

The Legend

Traditional stories tell that Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. However, while she bathed, Lord Shiva returned and as Ganesha didn't know him, he didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged and severed the head of the child and entered his house. After realizing that he had beheaded his own son, Lord Shiva fixed the head of an elephant (in some versions, Airavata, the vehicle of the god Indra) in place of Ganesha's head. In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God.

The Festival Date

The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 15 September. The festival lasts for 10 or 12 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi. This festival is observed in the lunar month of bhadrapada shukla paksha chathurthi madhyahana vyapini purvaviddha.

If Chaturthi prevails on both days, the first day should be observed. Even if chaturthi prevails for the complete duration of madhyahana on the second day, if it prevails on the previous day's madhyahana period even for one ghatika (24 minutes), the previous day should be observed.

Celebration, rituals and tradition

Two to three months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic plaster of paris(originally clay)models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated & depict Lord Ganesh in various poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 july Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures [[sugar ) in every locality. The pandals are erected by the people or a specific society or locality or group by collecting monetary contributions. The pandals are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events.

The priest, usually clad in red or white dhoti and uttariyam (Shawl), then symbolically invokes life into the statue by chanting mantras. This ritual is the Pranapratishhtha. After this the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of Kumkum & Sandalwood paste . Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.

Ganesh Visarjan in Mumbai

Ganesha is worshiped for 10 days from Bhadrapada Shudha Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi. On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, and fanfare to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees,[citation needed] this is the ritual known as Ganesha Visarjane in Kannada, Ganesh Visarjan in Marathi and Vinayaka Nimarjana or Vinayaka Nimajjanam in Telugu. At individual homes the Visarjan/Nimajjanam is also done on 3rd, 5th or 7th day as per the family tradition. All join in this final procession shouting "Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya" (O lord Ganesha, come again early next year) in Maharastra and "Ganesh Maha Raj ku, Jai" (lord Ganesha, victory is yours) in Andhra Pradesh. After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idols to the river to immerse it.

The main sweet dish during the festival is the modak (modak in Marathi, modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka in Kannada and modagam in Tamil). A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada) which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has a semicircular shape.

In Andhra, Kudumu (Rice flour dumplings stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture), Vundrallu (steamed coarsely grounded rice flour balls), Panakam (jaggery, black pepper and cardamom flavored drink), Vadapappu (soaked and moong lentils), Chalividi (cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture) etc.. are offered to Ganesha along with Modakams. These offerings to god are called Naivedyam in Telugu.

In Andhra, Clay Ganesh (Matti Vinayakudu in Telugu) and Turmeric Ganesh (Siddhi Vinayakudu in Telugu) is usually worshiped at homes along with plaster of paris Ganesha.

Public celebrations of the festival are hugely popular, with local communities (mandalas) vying with each other to put up the biggest statue & the best pandal. The festival is also the time for cultural activities like singing and theater performances, orchestra and community activities like free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, etc.

Today, the Ganesh Festival is not only a popular festival, it has become a very critical and important economic activity for Mumbai, Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Bangalore and Chennai . Many artists, industries, and businesses survive on this mega-event. Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many other religions also participate in the celibration of Ganesha festival like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others.

This festival has managed to re-establish the unity among the Indians during British Era.