‘Ganpati Bappa Morya, Mangal Murti Morya‘- each year on the propitious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, the streets, homes, heart and soul of Mumbai gets fully immersed in the divine celebration of the birth of the blessed son of Shiva-Parvati and the benevolent Father of the masses. Ganesh, the symbol of wisdom, wealth and good fortune, is ceremoniously welcomed between the holy months of August and September every year. While Mumbai seems synonymous with Ganesh Chaturthi yet one would be delighted to know that few other places in India are not far behind in welcoming Ganesha in their own true spirits.
Goans are devout followers of Ganapati and so stands the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival as their favourite ‘Chovoth’, as is famously known here. The grand event is celebrated for nearly three days with a clay idol of Ganapati, paper-sketched Gouri and a coconut symbolising Shiva. Women and children are seen dancing the traditional Fugdi before the Lord. Ganapati is installed in a pandal adorned with betel leaves, coconuts, bananas and mango tree-branches. Aarti and cooking of five vegetarian platters are obligatory during this festive season.
Preparations for the grand event begins weeks in advance and the spiritual boosting of millions of devotees reaches its height with time. The event here is fondly named ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ and follows its own ritualistic ways. Ganesh is installed in umpteen pandals along with his mother Gauri and prayers are ushered by married women to seek blessings for a contented marital life. The Lord is treated with his favourite sweetmeat, made of coconut and jaggery while flowers are embellished on the resplendent Lord to ornate his divine presence.
Though Pongal tops Tamil Nadu’s list of fiestas, still Vinayaka Chaturthi does not trail much behind. People from all over the state bind in one religious fervour to welcome the Lord into their homes. With the Ganapati Homam reverberating in the morning air, devotees get busy in preparing the Lord’s extremely favourite ‘Kozhukattai‘, prepared from rice flour and jaggery whose aroma soon engulfs the senses. A festive look is worn by most temples across the state particularly the Vinayakar Temple in Madurai and Uchipillayar Temple in Tiruchirapally.
Fondly known as Vigneshwara, the Lord is warmly greeted in the homes of Gujarat with extensive celebrations. Temples are elaborately adorned with lighting and sumptuous decorations for 7 to 10 days. With grand offerings made to the Lord, the final day of Chaturthi is marked with devotional songs, drum-beats, grand processions, fire crackers and the final immersion of Ganapati in the Sabarmati River, in synchrony with the flowing tears of his ardent devotees.
No matter which part of the country you are in, book your tickets and pack your bags to the destination of your choice, to witness a grand Hindu festival, soon to be solemnised.