Ganesh Chaturthi In India – Ganesh Visarjan
The people in India come in the mood of festivity for Ganesh Chaturthi much before the event. Skilled artists across the region make clay statues of Lord Ganesh a 1 or 2 months in advance. These statues vary in size as per the requirement of the devotees. Some idols are as small as ¾ an inch and some as huge as crossing 70ft height
Each home or locality which keeps these idols makes special preparations. Homes are decorated and a platform for the idol is specially installed. Localities which keep the idol erect pandals or mandaps which are beautifully decorated by monetary contributions from all. People use articles like flowers, theme based tents, garlands artificial lights, mirrors and numerous other things to make the set more attractive and colorful.
The idol once placed in its position is invoked with life by the priest. They dress up wearing a white or red dhoti and a shawl locally called the Uttariyam. He chants pious hymns from the religious books such as the Rig Veda and invokes life in the statue. The ritual is named as Pranapratishhtha and is preceded by the Shhodashopacharain which Lord Ganesh a is praised in 16 different ways. Jaggery, coconut, 21 durva, red flowers and 21 Modaks are offered to god in this ritual. Through the entire ceremony people repeat the mantras and hymns from various granthas like those from Narada Purana, Upanishad, Ganesh a stotra etc.
In this lunar month Bhadrapada the festival lasts for 10 continuous days. As per the Hindu calendar these days fall from Shudha Chaturthi and the last day is called Ananta Chaturdashi. A pious see off ceremony takes place on the 11th day of this festival when the deity is immersed in water and bid farewell. The idol is mounted on chariots and taken through the city to the nearest water body. Throughout the way people dance, sing and rejoice in the devotional feeling of Ganpati. People have a strong belief that god moves to his home kailasha and takes away all the evil on earth with him blessing all people with positivity, prosperity and happiness in life. People in different states acknowledge this ritual by different names. Those living in Maharashtra called this immersion ritual by Ganesh a Visarjan, in Telegu the procession is named as Vinayak Nimajjanam while the people of Karnataka call it Ganesh a Visarjane. The names might be different in different lingual but the devotional spirit is same throughout the country. Those who put the statue in their homes might not keep it for 10 long days necessarily. People also immerse the idol in 3, 5 or 7 days as per their customs and convenience. The entire country dances on the words of “Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya” by which they request the God of wisdom and prosperity to come back to them with the same blessings over and over again. Before taking the idol to the nearest water body people offer coconuts, camphor and flowers to the deity.
The most loved sweets of Ganesh a, the Modaks are the main attraction throughout the festival. These are simple homemade sweets which are prepared from wheat or rice flour as desired. These dumplings are filled with coconut which may either be dry or fresh but has to be grated well, Jaggery, rich dry fruits and other things as per different traditions. There is an option to either steam cook the sweet or prepare it by deep frying in oil or ghee. Modaks too are famous by different names in different states like in Telegu language people know them as kudumu or modakam, the Tamil people call it modagam whereas the Marathis modak. Apart from Modaks some people also make Karanji or karjikai by the Kannada population. It is another sweet loved by Ganpati but has a shape different from Modaks. It is semi circular in shape but composition of the Modaks.
The people of Andhra Pradesh offer much more than just the Modaks. They prepare kudumu which are small dumplings made of rice flour and stuffed with a mixture of Jaggery and coconut, Vundrallu which are balls of rice flour which is grounded coarse and are made by steaming, Panakam a drink made up of black pepper, cardamom and Jaggery, Vadapappu made of moong lentil, Chalividi a sweet preparation of rice and Jaggery along with the Modaks. The offerings in Telegu are called by the name Naivedyam.
In Andhra Pradesh the culture is to worship Ganpati made of clay called Matti Vinayakudu and turmeric called Siddhi Vinayakudu together with the Ganpati made of Plaster of Paris.
Local people of the region hugely celebrate the festival in public by competing with each other over a better pandal or idol. The 10 days are celebrated with cultural performances by people like singing, dancing orchestra performance, theater works along with social deeds like blood donation drive, free health checkups, and charity fund raising for the deprived class.
The festival does not have a restriction to any by caste or creed all come together and enjoy the vibes of god throughout the region.