Celebrations and festivities are a part of the social and cultural fabric of India. Among the many religious and social customs that mark the diverse festive calendar of Indians, is a very important religious occasion Ganesha Chaturthi celebration is about the birth of the God, Ganesha. It is celebrated with much enthusiasm especially in the state of Maharashtra.
- The Festival: Ganesha Chaturthi in most places in India is a day to invoke Ganesha, the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. On this day, devotees worship Ganesha idols, perform the aarti and offer prasad of fruits and sweets, especially Modak, which is considered to be the favorite of Lord Ganesha. In several places, clay idols of Ganesha, big and small, are made months in advance and thousands of devotees take them home to worship. It is customary to immerse these idols in water once the festivities are over with a prayer requesting the god
- Celebration in Maharashtra: Ganesha Chaturthi is especially popular in Maharashtra, where the festival was invoked by the Maratha ruler Shivaji. The festivities here last for about 10 days. Ganesha or Ganpati is welcomed into homes and massive pandals in the form of beautiful clay idols. There are several pandals in Mumbai, which compete against one another, by setting up larger and more impressive idols; there are also prizes for the best pandal. It is a time for devotion and prayer with individual households organizing an evening aarti with hymns. Women dress up in the best of their saris and jewelry and make beautiful rangolis outside their homes.
- Lord Ganesha being taken for immersion: The idol immersion days are the first, third, seventh and tenth days. The immersion ceremony is another grand affair where devotees carry the idol in joyous processions accompanied by thumping music and dancing to the beats of the dhol. Devotees throw gulal at one another and perform an Aarti before immersing the idol in a water body like a lake or sea.
- Celebrations beyond borders: This is one religious festival that is celebrated with equal fervor in India and abroad. The festivities among the Indian population in UK, USA, and Canada are well known. The Hindu community in London organizes puja pandals, prayers, and prasad for devotees. This festival is particularly popular in Pennsylvania, as well as in Vancouver in Canada.