Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is the Hindu festival that reveres god Ganesha. A ten day festival, it starts on the day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada. The festival is marked with installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as Ganapati Upanishad, prayers and vrata. Offerings and prasada from the prayers, that is distributed from the pandal to the community. The festival remembers Ganeshas birthday, and celebrates him as the god of beginnings, prosperity. At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic, Ganesha Chaturthi is also observed in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora elsewhere such as in the Trinidad, Suriname, Fiji, Mauritius, United States and Europe. The earliest mention of Ganapati, now considered equivalent to Ganesha or Vinayaka, is found in the Rigveda and it appears twice in the Rigveda, once in hymn 2.23.1, as well as in hymn 10.112.9. However, it is uncertain that the Vedic term Ganapati which literally means guardian of the multitudes, referred specifically to later era Ganesha, nor do the Vedic texts mention Ganesha Chaturthi. However, all of these mention not an idea of a Ganapati as is found in the Vedic texts. Further, the form of the concept has the context of a trouble maker. The Buddhists texts and iconography of the 1st millennium CE show Buddhist deities trampling this trouble maker, some scholars state that this trouble maker may have referred to different Ganapatis than Ganesha. Ganesha appears in the medieval Puranas, but not as trouble maker, the Skanda Purana, Narada Purana and the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, in particular, profusely praise him. For example, carvings at Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples such as at the Ellora Caves, although it is unknown when Ganesha Chaturthi was first observed, the festival has been publicly celebrated in Pune since the era of Shivaji. A crowd, more or less numerous, accompanies the idol, clapping hands and raises cries of joy and he was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions in Bombay Presidency, and other celebratory events at the festival. In Goa, Ganesha Chaturthi predates the Kadamba era, the Goa Inquisition had banned Hindu festivals, and Hindus who did not convert to Christianity were severely restricted. However, Hindu Goans continued to practice their religion despite the restrictions, many families worship Ganesha in the form of patri, a picture drawn on paper or small silver idols. In some households Ganesha idols are hidden, a unique to Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa due to a ban on clay Ganesha idols and festivals by the Jesuits as part of the Inquisition. Public Preparations for the festival begins months ahead and they are usually funded by local residents, businesses and community organizations. The idol making in Maharashtra usually begins with Padya pooja or worshipping the feet of Lord Ganesh
Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai
Ganesha, Basohli miniature, circa 1730.
Artist preparing Ganesha's image for the festival in Margao, Goa
The Lalbaugcha Raja (the most renowned version of Ganesha in Mumbai) in procession.