Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi is a 10-day Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva’s son, Lord Ganesha. Known as the God of all beginnings, Ganesha is often worshipped at the onset of most occasions to ward off evil eye. The festival is celebrated with much aplomb every year and brings together people from different walks of life and social standings. It starts on the fourth day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in the months of August or September of the Gregorian calendar. This year, the festival falls on September 13.
The day that commemorates the birth of lord Ganesha has several stories associated with it. It is commonly believed that Lord Ganesha was given birth by Goddess Parvati from dirt. According to mythology, she was taking a bath and created him to guard and keep a check that no one entered the room. Unaware of this, Lord Shiva apparently tried to enter and was angry to see an unknown boy standing outside his wife’s chamber. When he tried to enter, as per Parvati’s instructions, Ganesha tried to stop him. Enraged with his guts, Lord Shiva severed Ganesha’s head.
When Parvati heard this, she came outside to see the headless Ganesha and explained what had transpired. As it was not possible to join his original head back, another head of a living creature had to be used. In Ganesha’s case, the head of an elephant was used. This gave birth to the beloved Lord Ganesha as we know him. According to another legend, Ganesha was created by Shiva and Parvati on the request of other gods. They wanted someone to create obstacles for the rakshas (demons).
Also known as God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles, he is worshipped across many states in India — right from Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. People offer sweets, chant Vedic hymns and Hindu texts to the elephant-headed deity. The festival ends on the tenth day when the idols are immersed in water. In Mumbai alone, the festival is a huge celebration and around 150,000 statues are immersed annually.