Ganesh Chaturthi festival involves certain rituals and practices. This article discusses the customs and traditions associated with the festival.

Ganesh Chaturthi Rituals

Ganesh Chaturthi is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, who is believed to remove all the obstacles from one's life and bring prosperity. Also, famous as 'Vinayaka Chavithi', this festival is observed with much enthusiasm by all the Hindus across the world. Ganesh Chaturthi is observed on the month of Bhaadrapada (sometime between 19 August and 20 September) according to the Hindi calendar. The festival may last from a week to 10 days, in which various rituals are carried out. Idols of Lord Ganesh are installed in almost all households and also in public places. Community pujas are also conducted accompanied by various entertainment programmes. The festival is celebrated all across India, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. Outside India, Nepal celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi like the way is done in India. Other countries with Hindu minority such as United States, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana also observe Ganesh Chaturthi with utmost passion. The article below will give an insight to the various rituals and traditions performed on Ganesh Chaturthi.

Ganesh Chaturthi Customs

Idol Making
Artisans begin making the idols of Lord Ganesh two or three months before the main event. The idols are made of clay depicting the deity in various poses. Nowadays artisans put their own thought and imagination in beautifying the idol. The statues range from very small to really tall and big ones.

House Cleaning
A day before Ganesh Chaturthi, people clean and whitewash their houses to freshly welcome the God. A spot is chosen to place the idol and a platform is prepared. Then the house is colorfully decorated. Once the decoration is over, the idol of Lord Ganesha is kept on the podium.

Public/Community Celebration
A lot of public celebrations take place in which many communities raise huge and decorative tents called pandals and place the idols of Lord Ganesha.

The Main Event(s)
The puja is mostly begins towards the noon or the afternoon, depending on the auspicious time and moment, according to the Hindu calendar. All the members of the household or at the pandals gather around the idol. The priest then begins the puja which starts with the revealing of the deity's face, which when brought is covered with a piece of cloth or paper. The rituals that follow are said to fill life into the idol. The priest sips the holy water and bows to Lord Ganesha and continues the aarti. The aarti is accompanied by devotional chanting and songs to the sound of cymbals and bells. The whole atmosphere resonates with this sound. While the puja is being performed, the priest offers various sweets and fruits, which includes the confectionary 'modak' .

Once the puja is over, devotees offer their prayers and chant 'Ganpatibappa Morya' (a slogan). Then the sweets which were offered to Lord Ganesha are distributed among the devotees. This is takes place on the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi. For the next 10 days the idol is worshipped and with the simple recitation of devotional songs.

The Last Day
On the last or the 11th day, a final worship is performed and the idol is taken to a water source to be immersed. The idol is carried in a procession amidst the chanting of Lord Ganesha's praise and sing devotional songs. The procession may take one whole day.

Above mentioned procedure is the standard manner in which Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated, but there can be slight variations in some rituals in several Hindu communities. Since Ganesh Chaturthi is an age-old festival, people have developed various rituals (e.g. the ones performed by the priest) particular to their community or region. But the basic procedure remains the same throughout the country.