vakratunda mahākāya, surya koti sama prabha, nirvighnam kurū me deva, sarvakāryeshu sarvadā

Decorated houses, crowded streets, loud music, and lighted skyscrapers are only few of the things you see as millions prepare to welcome their beloved Shrī Ganesh. From artisans who put in all of their hard work and sleepless nights into making the murtis of Mahāganapati, to his beloved bhakts who cherish his arrival for 10 days, this festival is celebrated by all.. Dating back to as early as the 16th century, ‘Ganeshotsav’ or ‘Ganesh Chathurthi’ was first known to have been observed in Pune during the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji. The legend is that it was initially started by the Peshwas originating from the Konkan region of Maharashtra and the tradition stayed on. It had lost its glamour of large gatherings under the British Raj, and was revived by revolutionary freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak in 1885 against the British ban on public celebrations.

ekadantāya vakratundāya gauri tanāya dhīmahi, gajeshanāya bhalchandraya shrī ganeshāya dhīmahi.

The story in the Shiva Purāna is that once, Pārvati Mā took turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body, made a form of a boy and breathed life into him. He was instructed by her to guard the door while she was taking a bath. The boy even refused Shiva Bhagavān, the husband of Pārvati Mā who represents the destruction of adharma, entry, obeying his mother’s orders, but was beheaded by Shiva’s Trishul. Enraged on hearing this, Pārvati Mā demanded that Ganesh be brought back to life and he be worshipped before all. Ganesh was given the head of an elephant and hence, got the name ‘gajānana’.

From delicacies like modak and karanji to the ārti and visarjan, Ganesh Utsav truly is a time when people from all backgrounds come together. These 10 days of devotional celebration are known to be very auspicious in the Hindu calendar, celebrating new beginnings, and revering Shrī Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. At the end, those who celebrate in Maharashtra chant, “Ganapati bappā moryā, pudchyā varshi lavkar yā,” – All hail Ganapati Bappa, and may you return soon!

Arad Gujar, NHSF Kingston