Ganesh Utsav – The Harbinger of Hindu Festivities

Lord Ganesha leaves for his heavenly abode today leaving his divine blessings on us. The ‘Visarjan” (immersion of the idol in the waters) marks the end of the ten days long Ganesh Utsav. It begins on the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the fourth day of the waxing moon phase that is the ‘Chaturthi of the Shukla Paksha’ in the month of Bhadrapada of the Hindu calendar – the day of worship of Lord Ganesh. The festival can also be seen as the herald of Hindu festivities.

Ganpati Visarjan
Ganpati Visarjan

Lord Ganesh, is the lord of the new beginning and is also known as the remover of all obstacles (Vighnaharta). He is known to be the most favourite lord of the lords. He is often portrayed in various artistic ways. With the Elephant head and a broken tusk, he is the popular subject for the artist’s creative imaginations.

A gorgeous Ganpati adorns the stage
A gorgeous Ganpati adorns the stage

The lord is known by many names as Bal Ganesha – the sweet cuddly flabby Ganesha who is much loved by the kids; Chaturbhuj – the one with four arms; Ekdanta – with one tusk; Gajanana – the one with the elephant face; Lambodara – one with a big belly; Vighnaharta – the destroyer of all obstacles; and the list goes on. He is the lord of wisdom, intelligence, success and fame.

His journey back home
His journey back home

The lord with an Elephant head and a fat belly is adored by all and his worship inaugurates the festive season. The ten days long celebration is accompanied by few ritualistic items linked with the festival – Durba (a type of grass), Modaks (Ganesha’s favourite sweetmeat) and the ‘Dhol Pathaks’ (drummers group). The ‘Dhol Pathaks’ accompany the lord of the Lords to the Mandaps (stage) and also forms the part while bidding farewell during the Visarjan. (Read about the Ganpati festival in Pune.)

The Grand Ganpati Visarjan is the precursor of the other festival. It is mostly followed by Vishwakarma (the Lord of machines and tools also known as the divine engineer and architect) Puja which sometimes coincides with the Ganesh Utsav, as it has been this year. This puja is mostly held in eastern and northeastern part of India.

Ganpati goes to his heavenly abode
Ganpati goes to his heavenly abode
Lord Vishwakarma with his tools and his kite
Lord Vishwakarma with his tools and his kite

Then comes the big festival of Navratri and the grand Durga Puja ending with the Vijayadashami or the Dussehra. The holy day of Kojagiri Purnima soon follows. With other festivities around the nation, the Bengalis worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and happiness. Then Karva Chauth is celebrated by the married women mostly from the western, and central part of India.

Durga Puja
Durga Puja

Dhanteras, the celebration of which was limited to some region is now celebrated across India. The much-awaited festival of lights, Diwali comes to light up every house and brighten every soul. At the same time, Kali Puja is held by the Bengalis with much pomp and grandeur. The occasion of Bhai Dooj follows when the sisters pray for the protection and longevity of their brothers.

Colourful Rangolis brighten up the courtyards during Diwali
Colourful Rangolis brighten up the courtyards during Diwali

The Jagadhatri Puja celebrated by the Bengalis and Chhath Puja celebrated by the Biharis often coincides or one precedes the other. These few months of celebration ends with the final celebration of Christmas which is beyond religion and region and is celebrated by all with great joy and fervour. Then comes the new year and again a wait for a long till the festive season arrive. (PS: Being a Bengali I know more of the festivals from my region so I may have missed many other festivals that are celebrated during this span. I request my readers to refer them in the comment section.)

Variety of Modaks for sale during Ganesh Utsav
Variety of Modaks for sale during Ganesh Utsav

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