Compiled by: Nibandh Vinod
Last updated: Sep 11, 2023 10:01 IST
Ganesh Chaturthi festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom, success and happiness. This festival lasts for 10 days and is widely celebrated in India, especially in the state of Maharashtra. This year it will be celebrated from September 19 to 28. The festival is not only a religious celebration but also a cultural spectacle that brings people together in a spirit of joy and unity. It is a time for reflection, devotion and celebration of the divine qualities represented by Lord Ganesha. Here’s a look at the rituals and customs associated with the festival.
GANESH CHATURTHI 2023: MAIN RITUALS
- Prana Pratishta
This is the ritual to bring life into the Ganesha idol. It is performed on the first day of the festival by a priest who chants mantras and performs various rituals.
This is a 16-step ritual in which the Ganesha idol is offered prayers and offerings such as flowers, fruits, sweets and modaks (a sweet dish made from rice flour and coconut).
This ritual is performed on the last day of the festival to bid farewell to Lord Ganesha. It involves offering prayers and aartis (ceremonial lamps) to the idol.
- Ganpati Visarjan
This is the final ritual where the Ganesha idol is immersed in a river or lake. This is done to symbolize the return of Lord Ganesha to his abode at Mount Kailash.
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GANESH CHATURTHI 2023: TRADITIONAL PRACTICES
- Some people fast for the entire 10-day festival, while others fast on the first and last days.
- There are many songs and dances dedicated to Lord Ganesha. These are performed during the festival to celebrate his arrival and to seek his blessings.
- During the festival, fireworks are released to ward off evil spirits and welcome Lord Ganesha.
- Modaks are a popular gift to Lord Ganesha. They are also distributed to friends and relatives as a way to spread joy and goodwill.
DOS AND NOT WHILE PERFORMING GANESH CHATURTHI RITUALS
- Use an eco-friendly Ganesh idol made of clay or natural materials to reduce environmental impact during immersion.
- Before installing the idol, clean the worship area thoroughly and ensure that it is clean and tidy.
- Maintain ethical and moral behavior throughout the festival and avoid negative or harmful behavior.
- Perform daily prayers and rituals with devotion and sincerity, including offering flowers, incense, lamps and sweets to the deity.
- Prepare or offer modaks as it is considered Lord Ganesha’s favorite sweet.
- Do not immerse idols made of materials that may be harmful to the environment, such as plaster or non-biodegradable substances.
- Avoid polluting water bodies during the idol immersion. Choose natural, eco-friendly colors for decorating the idol.
- Do not waste excessive water, electricity or other resources during the festival. Practice conservation.
- Refrain from loud or disruptive behavior that may disturb neighbors or the community.
- It is generally not appropriate to consume alcohol or non-vegetarian food during the festival as it is considered inauspicious by many.
GANESH CHATURTHI 2023: RULES
1. The rules of fasting vary depending on the beliefs and practices of the individual. There are different fasting levels to choose from, depending on your personal preferences and health status:
- Nirjal (waterless) fasting
This is a strict form of fasting where you abstain from both food and water for the entire day.
- Phalahar (fruit) fasting
With this form of fasting you can consume fruits, nuts and dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
- Satvik fasting
This means consuming only simple, vegetarian and easily digestible food items such as sabudana (tapioca pearls), fruits, vegetables and nuts.
2. Determine the duration: Decide whether you want to fast for the entire day, for a specific period of time, or only during specific meals. The length of your fast may vary depending on your personal capacity and commitment.
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3. Maintain physical and mental purity during fasting. Avoid negative thoughts, gossip and engage in spiritual activities such as chanting prayers and mantras.
4. Regardless of the type of fasting you choose, non-vegetarian food is strictly avoided during the fast of Ganesh Chaturthi.
5. Many people avoid onion and garlic in their Lenten dishes as these are considered tamasic foods, which are believed to inhibit spiritual growth.
6. When preparing fasting meals, use as few herbs and oils as possible to keep the food simple and easy to digest.
7. Regular table salt (iodized salt) is usually avoided during fasting. Instead, use rock salt, also known as sendha namak, which is considered pure and acceptable for fasting.
8. If you are fasting without water, it is crucial to keep yourself hydrated before and after the fast. Drink plenty of water in the morning before starting your fast.
9. When it’s time to break your fast, start with something light, such as fruit or milk, and then gradually consume a full meal. Avoid overeating or indulging in heavy and rich foods right after fasting.
10. If you have health problems or dietary restrictions, consult a doctor before fasting. Your well-being should be a priority.