Being a land of ‘Unity in Diversity’ India is known for diversity in each and every walk of life. Whether they are diverse landscapes, diversity in religions, diversity in languages spoken and even variety of food, customs and traditions and much more. India is obviously known to be a land where festivals are celebrated with much fervour and excitement. In a land where many religions are practised in sync, Hinduism is one of the mainly practised religions.
Even within Hinduism, many deities are worshipped in different ways in the diverse cities and states of India.
One such highly celebrated festival is ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’. This is a 10-day long festival that is associated with welcoming ‘Lord Ganesha’ into your homes in the form of an idol and worshipping him at the end of 10 days. The idol is immersed into natural water bodies, as a way to bid Him adieu until the next year.
During this 10-day-long festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, many different practices are followed, in different areas across India. Though the emotion and motto of each form of celebration are the same, how these customs are carried out in different places may differ.
Let us have a look at the various ways in which Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated across India.
It would be safe to say that Ganesh Chaturthi is Maharashtra’s most celebrated festival! Here, people not only bring home the Ganesha idols at their homes but also celebrate like a public festival, where common localities like housing societies, colonies or even residents of a common street create their own, ‘pandals’ where Ganesha idols are worshipped. Performing aartis together and offering sweets are an integral part of the festivities. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi was promoted by the Maratha Leader, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaja. Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak encouraged celebrating the festival as a public festival with common pandals. This was to enhance the sense of unity among fellow Indians.
While the festival is celebrated with grandeur in most parts of Maharashtra, mention of a few cities is noteworthy.
This bustling city comes alive and united for these 10 days of Ganesh Chaturthi. The city is lit up and decorated like a bride! And the Ganesh Chaturthi spirit with its vibrant colours and lights is unmissable. It isn’t uncommon for most streets and societies to have their own ‘pandals’ for the festival. Most of these common pandals often host various entertainment programs each evening as a part of the celebration, Competitions for children, musical nights or even drama performances are a few activities conducted as a part of the festivities.
Some famous Ganesh pandals that are worth visiting in Mumbai are Lalbaghcha Raja, Khetwadi Ganraj, Ganesh Galli Cha Raja and many more.
At the end of the 10th day, these idols are immersed into the Arabian Sea, which is known as ‘Visarjan’. This is done with great pomp including dances, music and a sense of happiness.
Pune being the cultural hub of the state is no less when it comes to Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Various sweet treats like modaks, ladoos etc are offered as a ‘prasad’ during the festival. The food preparations during the festival are lavish, and some recipes that are considered ‘Ganesha’s favourite’ are specially prepared to please God.
Kasba Ganpati and Dagdushet Halwai Ganpati are some very famous places to visit during Ganeshostav.
This place in Maharashtra has some great celebrations as well. The place gets its name because of the famous Ganesha temple ‘Swayambhu’. This temple becomes the epicentre of the celebrations in the town. The locals celebrate by carrying a tall idol of Lord Ganesh on a palanquin accompanied by loud music and dance.
Being a melting pot of many cultures, Delhi is primarily cosmopolitan in nature. And so, it is not uncommon to see Ganesh Chaturthi being celebrated in many areas of Delhi. There are big Ganesha idols put up in many areas with a great amount of lighting and decoration. The Hindu temples are often echoing with priests chanting verses from the holy books or performing artists.
Probably due to the close proximity between Goa and Maharashtra, the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in many parts of Goa are very similar to those done in Maharashtra. The Konkani Hindu population of Goa, commence preparations days before the actual festival. The deep cleaning of their homes to welcome Lord Ganesh, along with the majestic decorations in their homes are all a part of the celebrations.
Some areas where the Hindu population is in majority like Marcel and Mapusa become the centre of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Devotees from across the state gather to visit the Ganesh Temples and witness the grand celebrations.
The streets of the capital city of Rajasthan are thronged with beautifully crafted idols of Ganesha. Many streets are lit up and beautifully decorated. The culture of having huge common pandals is not very prominent in the city. But many people bring home Ganesh idols and worship them during the 10-day-long festival.
Ganesh Chaturthi festivities in Tamil Nadu commence with the worshipping of Goddess Gauri, who is the mother of Lord Ganesha. This is known as ‘Gauri Habba’. The festivities begin first with the welcoming of Goddess Gauri a day prior. It is followed by the welcoming of Lord Ganesha the following day. This means the mother is welcomed first and the son is welcomed the next day.
During Ganesh Chaturthi, one will see special aartis and special chants being prayed in the temples. Some large-sized idols of Ganesha are also placed in some areas for devotees to pray.
In Karnataka, the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi commence with the worshipping of Goddess Gauri, who is the mother of Lord Ganesh. During the festival, the installation of idols of Goddess Gauri and Lord Ganesh is done in many households. The ritual includes starting the day earlier than usual and including special Pooja and Arti for the Goddess Gauri and Lord Ganesh. People even prepare special sweets like modakam, and payasam as an offering to the Gods. The same is then offered to devotees who visit to offer prayers as ‘prasadam’.
This city also participates in Ganesh Chaturthi festival with great eagerness and devotion. One of the most noteworthy features of the celebrations is the mandal of Khairatabad which is well known for installing one of the tallest idols of Lord Ganesha. The height of this idol goes as high as 60ft. Another famous feature of this is the gargantuan-sized laddoo offering that is made for God. The laddoo weighs anywhere around 5600kgs.
Other than that, there are also many other pandals installed. The celebrations include special preparations to offer to God as well as offered to devotees.