Bhadrapada shukla chaturthi
29 August, Friday
5-7 days,10-12 days
Ganesha Chaturthi (गणेश चतुर्थी) is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings and wisdom. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).
The festival involves installing clay Idols of lord Ganesh in public pandals (temporary shrines), which are worshipped for ten days with different variety of herbal leaves, plants and immersed at the end of the festival in a water(lake) along with the Idol. After adding herbal and medicated plants and leaves(patri) in lakes, the water in the lake become Hygienic. This was in practice because, in early days people used to drink lake water, and to protect people with infections and viral diseases especially in this season, this tradition was introduced. Some Hindus also install the clay images of Ganesha in their homes. It is believed that Ganesha bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. The festival is celebrated as a public event since the days of Shivaji (1630-1680).
While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra and other parts of Western India. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.Legend
Main article: Ganesha
Traditional Ganesha Hindu stories tell that Lord Ganesha,son of goddess Parvati consort of Shiva. Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva, who had gone out, returned and as Ganesha didn't know him, didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged by this and asked his follower Ganas to teach the child some manners. Ganesha who was very powerful, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of Shakti, defeated Shiva's followers and declared that nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing. The sage of heavens, Narada along with the Saptarishis sensed the growing turmoil and went to appease the boy with no results. Angered, the king of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn't stand a chance. By then, this issue had become a matter of pride for Parvati and Shiva. Angry Shiva severed the head of the child. Parvati seeing this became enraged. Seeing Parvati in anger Shiva promised that her son will be alive again. The devas searched for the head of dead person facing North, but they found only the head of a dead elephant. They brought the head of the elephant and Shiva fixed it on the child's body and brought him back to life. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day the boy would be called Ganesha (Gana Isha : Lord of Ganas).
According to the Linga Purana, Ganesha was created by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at the request of the Devas for being a Vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of Rakshasas, and a Vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the Devas achieve fruits of their hard work.History
It is not known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated. Ganesh Chaturthi was being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630-1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire. The Peshwas, the de facto hereditary administrators of the Empire from 1749 till its end in 1818, encouraged the celebrations in their administrative seat Pune as Ganesha was their family deity (Kuladevata). With the fall of the Peshwas, Ganesh Chaturthi lost state patronage and became a private family celebration again till its revival by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.
In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organized public event. Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesha as "the god for everybody", and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order "to bridge the gap between Brahmins and 'non-Brahmins' and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them", and generate nationalistic fervour among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, sea, or other pools of water all public images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
Under Tilak's encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the form of intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, performances of plays, musical concerts, and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings.
Lake contaminated with Plaster of Paris Ganesha idols
The most serious impact of the festival on the environment is due to the immersion of idols made of Plaster of Paris into lakes, rivers and the sea. Traditionally, the idol was sculpted out of mud taken from nearby one’s home. After the festival, it was returned to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body. This cycle was meant to represent the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature.
However, as the production of Ganesh idols on a commercial basis grew, the earthen or natural clay (shaadu maati in Marathi and banka matti in Telugu) was replaced by Plaster of Paris. Plaster is a man-made material, easier to mould, lighter and less expensive than clay. However, plaster is non-biodegradable, and insoluble in water. Moreover, the chemical paints used to adorn these plaster idols themselves contain heavy metals like mercury and cadmium, causing water pollution. Also, on immersion, non-biodegradable accessories that originally adorned the idol accumulate in the layers of sand on the beach.
In the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Radio Jaagriti, the leading Hindu radio station in the country, has actively educated the public of the environmental implications of the use of plaster of Paris murtis. Clay Lord Ganeshas have been encouraged to be used for immersion into the water courses to prevent any harmful environmental impacts. Ganesh Chaturthi is a widely celebrated Hindu Festival in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Goa, the sale of Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris (PoP) is banned by the State Government. People are urged to buy traditional clay idols made by artisans.
Recently there have been new initiatives sponsored by some state governments to produce clay Ganesha idols.
Artificial pool created to immerse Plaster of Paris idols.
On the final day of the Ganesh festival thousands of plaster idols are immersed into water bodies by devotees. These increase the level of acidity in the water and the content of heavy metals. Several non-governmental and governmental bodies have been addressing this issue. Amongst the solutions proposed are as follows:
Return to the traditional use of natural clay idols and immerse the icon in a bucket of water at home.
Use of a permanent icon made of stone and brass, used every year and a symbolic immersion only.
Recycling of plaster idols to repaint them and use them again the following year.
Ban on the immersion of plaster idols into lakes, rivers and the sea.
Creative use of other biodegradable materials such as papier-mâché to create Ganesh idols.
Encouraging people to immerse the idols in tanks of water rather than in natural water bodies.
To handle religious sentiments sensitively, some temples and spiritual groups have taken up the cause.