Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi (Vinayaka Chaturthi, Ganeshotsav) is the festival celebrating the Hindu deity Ganesha. According to Hindu calendar it is held in the month of Bhaadrapada. It lasts for 10 days – from the Shukla Chaturthi ( the 4th day of the waxing moon period) to Anant Chaturdashi (the 14th day of the waxing moon period). For those following western calendar, Shukla Chaturthi is between the 19th of August and 15th of September. In 2012 it is on the 29th of September.

There is a story stating that Ganesha was created by the Hindu goddess Parvati. She made as statue out of a piece of sandalwood paste. After turning the statue alive she put him as guard in front of the bathroom door. Ganesha took his duty very seriously. Parvati's husband god Shiva was not allowed to enter the bathroom. Shiva beheaded Ganesha. Soon after that he found out that he had actually killed his own son. So Shiva then put an elephant head on Ganesha's body. From that moment on Ganesha is traditionally presented as the elephant-headed Hindu deity.


Statues of Ganesha appear in various sizes. This god is depicted in different body positions. There are statues in both homes and temples where there they are put on structures known as mandapas or pandals. Mandapas are decorated with flowers and lights.

Pranapratishhtha and Shhodashopachara rites are performed by the priest dressed in red or white dhoti and uttariyam shawl. Offerings that are made include coconut, jaggery sugar, 21 modakas (modak) dumplings, 21 pieces of durva (Cynodon dactylon) grass and some flowers. Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted. A red creamy substance made of kumkum and sandalwood paste is applied on the statue.

As already mentioned the festival lasts for 10 days. On the 11th day there is a big street procession with Ganesha statue taken out of the local temple. There is lot of music and dance. The statue is carried to the sea or river. In the state of Maharashtra everybody shouts “Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya" (O lord Ganesha, come again early next year). It is believed that Ganesha takes away the bad luck of those worshipping him. This ritual has different names. Among the Marathi people it is called Ganesh Visarjan. Visarjan rite is also performed on the family level. Depending on the family it is done on the 3rd, 5th or 7th day.

Already mentioned modaka dumplings are the most popular delicacy eaten during Ganesh Chaturthi. They are made of rice or wheat flour. They contain fruit or similar stuffing. They are fried or steamed.