The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is held on Chaturthi or fourth day of the Shukla Paksh or waxing moon in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad. The day celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesh.
The Lord of Obstacles
As the Lord of Obstacles, his worship is foremost. However, this is the day set aside for Lord Ganesh, when He is worshipped according to rituals. Traditionally, an image of Lord Ganesh was made of gold, silver or clay. This image was tied over a new pitcher filled with water. In the evening, after paying respect with the application of teeka on his forehead, Lord Ganesh is worshipped. However, these days the usual practice in community poojas or worship is that of buying commissioned or off-the-shelf images from the market. Where, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the household, the image that is already a part of daily worship rituals, is readied for pooja, placed facing South
An oblation or offering of 21 laddus is offered
After keeping 5 laddus in front of the image, the rest is distributed as holy Prasad of the Lord to the priest, worshippers, and onlookers. The worshipper undertakes a fast on that day, which ends with the completion of worship and distribution of prasad and alms. The image is then immersed in water. However, in household worship, the temple area is cleaned, and the image is again placed ready the following day for its daily worship.
The ritual of offering laddus have their own story to tell. Laddus are the favored sweet of Lord Ganesh, in particular, Modak laddoos, which are offered to him on this day. Thousands and thousands of tons of Laddus are made on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi for offering and partaking of this favored sweet of Lord Ganesh.
Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi
There are various legends pointing towards this age-old celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. Once when Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati were playing chess, their son Ganesh acted as the moderator. Although Goddess Parvati kept winning, Ganesh kept declaring Lord Shiva as the winner, so in a fit of rage, he was cursed by the Goddess.
It was only when Naga women performed the Ganesh pooja on Ganesh Chaturthi day that the curse was nullified. Ganesh Chaturthi also happens to be the day when Ganesh’s head was restored with the head of an elephant after being mistakenly beheaded. Thus Ganesh Chaturthi is the day of fast and worship of Lord Ganesh when his blessings are invoked.
On this day, looking up at the moon is considered inauspicious. According to legend, as recounted by Lord Shiva about Lord Krishna meeting such a fate, this results in false allegation against the onlooker. So as Narad advised Lord Krishna to observe a fast on fourth of the waning moon in veneration of Lord Ganesh, this practice has been followed to date.
Lord Ganesh’s blessings are invoked during this festival celebrated with much pomp in Maharashtra, as Gan Nayak or Chief of Attendants and Vighna Hara or Remover of Obstacles. In Orissa, he is worshipped as the God of Wisdom.