Every year around the time of August-September, the Indian subcontinent witnesses one of the most grandly celebrated festivals in the country- Ganesh Chaturthi. However, it was not always a public celebration.
History has to say that performing puja on Lord Ganesha’s janam divas (birthday) every year was initially started by Shivaji maharaj of the Maratha empire who used to worship the Lord as Kuladevata or the family god of the Peshwas. For a long time, it is believed to have been celebrated only amongst that family.
Centuries later in 1892, as India was suffering under the British rule, freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak reinvented Ganesh Chaturthi and urged Hindus to come forward and take part in a 10-day long festival. It was his strategy to bring everyone together and instil a feeling of nationalism and patriotism.
British watched in awe as the streets were decorated and pandals set up. Different people in Mumbai and Pune sprawled the streets to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesha.
What started as a nationalist movement in Maharashtra has grown into a nation-wide festival with each state honouring the Lord in their own unique way.
Take a look at some-
This state unarguably celebrates the festival in the largest scale. Preparations start out early as houses are cleaned and decorated to welcome the Lord. Every household here brings home an idol of the Lord with great care and pujas are performed all 10 days in a very ritualistic manner. Elaborate and exquisite pandals are set up in every locality where enormous idols of the Lord are placed, and cultural performances take place. Sweets and savouries like modak are prepared during this time
On the 10th day, the idols are immersed in nearby rivers or other water bodies. This process is called Visarjan where Lord Ganesha is taken to the river in a huge procession along with music, dances and more. Puneri Dhol and Nashik Dhol are famous performances during this time.
Other states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh also follow a similar suit.
This South Indian state celebrates the festival in a slightly varied manner. Here, prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha along with Devi Gauri- mother of the Lord and hence, he is called Gauri Ganesha. This puja is performed especially by married woman in order to seek blessings from the goddess to fill their marital life with contentment and prosperity.
Here, people first make a visit to any famous temple of Lord Ganesha near them like the Moti Dongri temple in Jaipur and get a darshan of the Lord and then install small idols of him in their houses. The idols are washed in red Kumkum and are adorned with a garland of red flowers. Ladoos are distributed among family and friends.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival that brings together people that are otherwise differentiated by traditions, cultures, geographical boundaries, castes etc.
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