The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi, is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over India. On this day Lord Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all other gods and so this festival came to be. Ganesh Chaturthi falls between 19th August and 15th September and lasts for 10 days.
Mythology tells us that Ganesh was created by the Goddess Parvati when she sculpted him out of sandalwood paste and brought the figure to life. She then sent him to guard her door while she bathed. When Lord Shiva returned he was denied access into the chamber by this boy whom he did not recognise. So he severed Ganesh’s head in a fit of anger.
Upon finding out that Ganesh was his son, Shiva was overcome with remorse. He resurrected his son by attaching an elephant’s head onto Ganesh’s body and that’s how Ganesh came to be the elephant headed God.
The festival starts with colourfully decorated statues of Ganesha being installed in homes. The pandals are adorned with garlands and lights and the idol is worhsipped in homes for 10 days. On the 11th day it is carried through the streets and immersed in a river or sea. This represents a ritualistic send-off for Lord Ganesh as he travels to his home in Kailash, taking with him the sorrows of his devotees. The main dish eaten during this festival is the modak. Other dishes such as kudumu, vrundallu, panakam and vadapappu are offered to Ganesha along with modaks.
Go green: Traditionally, the statues of Ganesh were made out of clay. In order to produce cheaper statues, they are often made of plaster of Paris (POP). This material pollutes water bodies when the POP dissolves.
If your family follows this tradition of immersing a statue of Ganesh in a large water body, encourage them to get one that’s made from clay instead of POP.
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