Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha starts today on September 10. Also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi, this festival is one of the most eagerly awaited, popular, and widely celebrated in India. The excitement, enthusiasm and joy associated with this occasion is unparalleled. It is an elaborate Hindu festival that spans over 10 days.
During this 10-day duration of Ganesh Chaturthi, there are 16 rituals performed. Among them we can broadly classify them as 4 key rituals:
Avahana and Pran Pratishtha
This is the maiden step after devotees do ‘Deep-Prajwalan’ and ‘Sankalpa’. With mantra recitation, Lord Ganesha is reverentially invited and life is invoked in the idol placed in the pandal or temple or at home. It’s a ritual to consecrate the ‘murti’ or statue.
Next step involves the tradition of 16-step puja wherein ‘shodasha’ means 16 and upachara means ‘devoutly offering the lord’, in Sanskrit.
Having washed Ganesha’s feet, the idol is bathed in milk, ghee, honey, curd, sugar (panchamrit snan) followed by scented oil and then ganga jal. Then new vastra/clothes are offered (vastra, uttariya samarpan); along with flowers, unbroken rice (Akshata), garland, sindoor, and chandan. The idol is decked and worshipped religiously by offering modak, betel leaves, coconut (naivedya) lighting incense sticks, diyas, chanting hymns, mantras.
This ritual is performed before visarjan. With great joy and devotion, people of all age groups participate in the festival. Be it in pandals, temples or homes, Ganesha Chaturthi is observed with immense happiness. People sing, dance, and light up fireworks. With the beautiful chant of mantras, aarti, flowers, Ganesha is worshipped to bid farewell. The sequence of steps involved are Niranjan aarti, Pushpanjali arpan, Pradakshina.
This is the final closing ritual of the grand festival. Ganesha idol is reverentially immersed in the water bodies wishing for the Lord of wisdom to return next year. People cry out loud “Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” while they head for immersion.