Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations
Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi- which marks the birth of the Lord Ganesh- begin up to ten days in advance, and sometimes even months in advance. In virtually every neighbourhood, a brightly decorated and painstakingly crafted Ganesh idol is made, to be illuminated and worshipped for all of the ten days leading up to Ganesh Chaturthi.
Grand pandals or stages are set up and filled with fresh flowers and the idols are dressed up in colourful clothes and glittering ornaments. There is keen competition to see which pandal has been most artistically decorated and sometimes there is even a prize for the best dressed idol!
On the day of the Ganesh festival itself, sweets - especially laddoos and sugary modaks, which are a favourite of the God's -- are distributed (and consumed) and Ganesh temples are crowded with devotees who participate in the worship of the deity.
When all the festivities are over, the idols which have been worshipped over the past ten days are taken out in a grand procession. During this procession the much-adored God is hoisted on willing shoulders, or rides in open trucks and carriages.
Accompanied by fireworks displays, beating drums and the sound of thousands of voices singing devotional songs, the idols are ritually immersed in a nearby sea, lake or river. The immersion ceremony, which is known as the 'visarjan', marks the end of the festivities. The people dance with great enthusiasm and singing rents the air, urging the god to return post haste the next year.
"Ganpati bapa, mouriya! Pudcha varshi, laukar ya!" Hail Lord Ganesha, please return soon next year.