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Story behind Ganesh Chaturthi

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva was away at a war. Parvati, his consort wanted to bathe. She had no one to guard the door to her house, so she created Ganesha out of the sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door and instructed him not to let anyone enter. In the meantime, Lord Shiva returned from the battle.

Ganesha stopped Shiva from entering Parvati’s chamber. Shiva, enraged by Ganesh’s impudence, took his trident (Trishul) and cut off Ganesha’s head. Parvati emerged to find Ganesha decapitated and flew into a rage. She took on the form of the Goddess Kali and threatened destruction to the three worlds of Heaven, Earth and the subterranean earth.

Fearing the inevitable, the other Gods implored Shiva to pacify Parvati. Shiva sent out his Ganas, to bring the head of the first living being with his head towards the north (the auspicious direction associated with wisdom). The first thing they came across was an elephant. So, they brought the head of this elephant and Shiva placed it on the trunk of Parvati’s son and breathed life into him and Ganesha was born. Parvati was overjoyed and embraced her son, the elephant-headed boy whom Shiva named Ganesha, the lord of his Ganas.

This day is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi

Rituals:

Ganesha idols made of clay is placed on an elevated platform. The platform is decorated with small banana saplings, flowers, lights, etc, and the lamps are lit. Ganesha idol is adorned with flowers, especially with Dhruva and Hibiscus. Many households and Ganesha Pandals in Maharashtra use this occasion to display their artistic skills and display themes out of mythology or any current socio-economic problems.

At the auspicious time, Ganesh puja is conducting by chanting shlokas, Mantras, and Arti. 

 Modak is offered as Naivedya.  This is a preparation made of steamed rice flour parcels containing a stuffing of jaggery, desiccated coconut, cardamom and Saffron.  Modak is offered along with fruits and coconut at the end of the puja.