Friday, September 03, 2004

Ganesh Chaturthi - Puja for Lord Ganesha

On the festival morning, devotees listen to the legends related to Lord Ganesha. As a part of the prayer, one hundred and eight different names of Lord Ganesh are chanted. One flower is placed on his idol as each of his names is chanted. Lord Ganesha’s favorite snack is supposed to be modak (a ball shaped pudding). They are prepared by the dozens on the Ganesh Chaturdashi day and placed before his idol, before they are consumed by the devotees.

Ganesha’s importance in the Hindu pantheon is underlined by the fact that no prayer in Hindu religion can be performed without first invoking his name. ‘Om’ the chief mantra of Hindu religion, in fact, refers to Lord Ganesha. So even Vaishnavites (devotees of Lord Vishnu) worship him before starting any prayer.

Ganesh chaturthi - grandly celebrated festivals in India

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most grandly celebrated festivals in India. It is celebrated on the occasion of Lord Ganesha or Vinayaka’s birthday, which is on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). His idols are made of clay, I different colours, sizes and shapes. They are later immersed in water on the tenth day following the puja, or before that on an odd day only. The ceremony wherein the idols are immersed is known as Visarjan. During the Visarjan, vociferous cries of ‘Ganesh Maharaj ki Jai’ are let out. The younger lot dance in front of the idols to the accompaniment of music played with instruments like dholak (percussion instruments), bugles. The music at times gets jarring with each group trying to outplay the other by being as loud as possible. People gather in lakhs in places like Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to give this spectacle a special feel.

Though the festival is most popular in Maharashtra, states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka do not lag far behind. Pandals (podiums) are erected on every street and cultural programmes are organized during these festivities. Nowadays musical programmes featuring contemporary popular tunes are belted out. Many people stay through the night even playing cards. But these do not in any way rob this festival of its spirit.

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