Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Caturthi or ‘Chovoth’ in Konkani is a Hindu festival celebrated in honor of the ‘Elephant-headed God’. Chaturthi translates to ‘fourth day’ or ‘fourth state’ in Hindi. Celebrations for the festival are generally held on the fourth day of the first fortnight in the month of Bhaadrapada in the Hindu Calendar. The festival generally lasts ten days, ending on the fourteenth day of the fortnight. Each individual or family brings home the idol for 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 11 days depending on the family tradition. During Ganesh Chaturthi, when the puja of Gouri and Mahadev are performed along with Ganesha; Goddess Gouri is drawn on paper and Lord Shiva is symbolized by a coconut.
Idols depicting Lord Ganesha are brought into homes of worshipers and their places of work. A Huge Ganesh Idol is also set up in the neighborhood in case of a public celebration. Public celebrations are generally held for a longer period compared to home celebrations. These celebrations are usually funded by the locals or community. A Pandal is erected for the Ganesh Idol to be worshipped with ‘bhajans’ and ‘poojas’ throughout the festivity period. At the end of the festival, the Ganesha idols are immersed in a large body of water such as the sea, river, lake or pond depending on the size. People chant slogans of ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya, fudlya varshi laukar yaa!’
The idols are generally made of clay since it biodegradable and easily soluble. The Government of India prohibits Idol makers from using any other material, such as Plaster of Paris (PoP) to mould the idols as it is harmful to the ecosystem. Now-a-days, besides Pop, harmful toxic paint is used to decorate the idols despite a Govenment ban.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on a grand scale in Maharashtra, Telangana and Goa, however other states of India also indulge in celebrating this festival.
An array of delicacies are prepared by families in view of the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi like Modaks, Laddoos, (deemed to be Ganesha’s favourite), alongwith Neureos, Kheer, Pedas and the famous Chana Ros. These are offered to the Deity and then distributed among family and friends.