The birthday of Lord Ganesh is celebrated on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad Shukla (August/September). This festival is celebrated for 10 days from Ganesh Chaturthi 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.

Lord Ganesha Birthday Festival of Maharashtra

Ganesh Chaturthi, Birthday of Lord Ganesha, Ganesh Festival of Maharashtra

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 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. This Lord Ganesh is very fond of sweets and hence khir, panchamrit, fruits and sweets and specially modaks are placed before him as “Naivedya” or “Bhog”. 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 of “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 slokas 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. With the end of the Peshwa regime this festival lost its glamour and came to be observed privately in households only. Thus many years passed.

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Father of Indian Unrest, mobilised people through public Ganesh Utsav which was until then confined to the homes of the people and palaces of Maharajas. Hindus came together for the festival which became a source of political awakening against the British regime.

At the crucial juncture of India’s history when the nation indeed was under the yoke of slavery of the British, Lokmanya Tilak, who proclaimed “Swarajya is my birth-right and I’ll have it” realising the importance of the massive popularity of this festival initiated its nationwide celebrations in 1893. Then it became a platform for political awakening and uprising among people to gain freedom from British imperialism. Ganesh Festival thus played a very important role in our Freedom Struggle.

Castes and creeds were forgotten as people organised the festivals with great enthusiasm. Mandals or organisations of people in every locality came into being to organise the annual event with fanfare. After Independence in 1947, these Mandals continued to celebrate the festival with vigour and devotion. Political overtones of pre-Independence era were replaced by activities for social good. Pune Mandals, some of them established way back in the last decade of the 19th century, continued to remain in the forefront in their social outlook. Mandals in Mumbai and other towns of Maharashtra have kept the spirit of festivity and sense of commitment to the society. They do organise daily events during the ten days of Ganesh Festival.