It’s time to feast on laddoos and modaks and welcome Lord Ganesha into our homes. Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival predominantly celebrated in Maharashtra and Karnataka. So, who is Ganesha or Ganapathi? He is the son of Shiva and Parvathi and is often referred to as the elephant headed god. There many stories about how he got the elephant head, one of them is that when Parvati created a young boy and breathed life into him. She asked him to guard the door while she bathes. When Shiva comes home, the boy stops him and in his rage cuts the boy’s head. To appease Parvathi, he brought the boy back to life and replaced his head with an elephant’s head.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival, wherein an idol of Ganesha is brought home and placed. He is surrounded by decorations and lights. Modaks, which look alike to momos, is a sweet made specially for the festival. It is said to be Ganesha’s favorite sweet. Friends and families gather together to perform pujas and sing bhajans. People are dressed in traditional attire.
Apart from Ganesh idols at home, there are public Ganesh idols too, on the streets. Generally seen in Mumbai and Bangalore, these public idols are of mammoth sizes and the entire street is lit. Maharashtrian crowds even perform a dance using an Indian instrument called Lazzim.
The number of days the idol is kept at home or in public varies. Some people keep the idol of one day some 5, some 9; after which the idol is taken to the sea or a nearby river for immersion. This immersion symbolises his journey back to heaven. Until recently, the idols used to be made of plaster of paris (pop) which today has been banned in many parts of India, due to its toxic material. Today people have started buying idols made of clay or mud which easily dissolve in the water, causing no harm to water based organisms.
There is a common saying in Marathi -’Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Pudcha Varshi Laukar ya!’ Which translates to - ‘long live Ganapathi, come again soon next year!’ So kids, let us all welcome an eco-friendly Ganapathi, whole heartedly, as he blesses us for a bright future and a green world!