Ganesh Chaturthi is also called Vinayak Chaturthi. Each year it is celebrated for ten days as the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to honor the elephant-headed God. Lord Ganesha is considered The Lord of knowledge, wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. He is also considered as the God of beginnings and is worshiped in the beginning of all rituals and ceremonies.
Lord Ganesha is known by 108 distinct names. Vigana Harta; the one who removes obstacles and Buddhi Pradaayaka; the one who grants knowledge are his other names. But he is generally called as Ganapati or Vinayaka.
The Story behind Ganesh Chaturthi celebration which I’ve also heard from my Grand Parents and Parents is that The Goddess Parvati was the maker of Ganpati. She herself without Lord Shiva, utilized her body dirt to make Ganesha and set him outside the door to keep an eye on while she had gone for a bath.
While she was gone, Lord Shiva arrived and unknown of the fact that Ganesha is his son, he got into a battle with Ganesha as he didn’t allow Lord Shiva to enter Goddess Parvati’s room as per his mother’s orders. Angry Lord Shiva takes out Ganesha’s head with his weapon trishool. At the same time, Goddess Parvati saw this site and she in anger appeared as Goddess Kali and started destroying the whole world. As this could lead to the end of the world, this stressed all Gods and Goddesses and they asked Lord Shiva to discover an answer and calm the anger of Goddess Kali.
Shiva at that point ordered every one of his followers to quickly go and discover a kid whose mother in carelessness has her back towards her child and bring his head. The first child seen by them was that of an elephant and as ordered they sliced his head and brought it to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva quickly set the head on Ganesha’s body and breathed life into it once more. The rage of Maa Kali was calmed and Goddess Parvati was once again back to her normal form. All God and Goddesses blessed Lord Ganesha and since then today the day is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi for this reason.
During the celebration, beautiful pandals are set up. People bring idols of Lord Ganesh to their homes and worship it. The length of this celebration depends on one’s tradition and it varies from 1 day, 3 days, 5 days to 11 days.
It is believed that among the large numbers of sweets offered to Lord Ganesha during the celebration, Modak is known to be his most loved sweet and is the main dish prepared specially on this day.
During the celebrations, all men and women gather and do bhajans and kirtans in the morning and night. They together sing Lord Ganesh’s Aarti and offers bhog to the Lord. Children play around in the pandal. Visitors from different places come to offer their prayers and seek for Lord Ganesha’s blessings.
The last day which is called Anant Chaturdashi the idol of Lord Ganesha is taken out in a colorful and musical parade with all due care. All men and women pray Lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles from their lives and to come back soon the next year with lots of blessings and the idol is then submerged traditionally in a river or sea water.
So this is the story behind Ganesh Chaturthi and how the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in India.
At last, my heartily wishes to all on Ganesh Chaturthi and Happy Ganesh Utsav. ☺