Ganpati Festival is a colorful festival, very popular mostly
amongst Maharashtrians. Wherever Maharashtrians go on this planet they
celebrate this festival religiously & enthusiastically; be it USA,
Europe, Australia, Africa or Middle East.
Lord Ganesh, the elephant headed god, son of Shiva & Parvati,
is a very popular god for Indians. His blessings are invoked at most religious
ceremonies and important events in life such as marriage, starting a business,
buying a home as he is Vighnaharta - the remover of all obstacles to
success. He is Dukhaharta - the giver of fortune and can help to avoid
natural calamities. He is also known as Sukhakarta which means the god
who brings prosperity and happiness, which everyone strives for in life.
Vinayaka, the god of wisdom and the benevolent deity of the
dynasty of Peshwas, who ruled Maharashtra inculcating a special culture in the state. Gajanan is the
herald of auspicious beginnings and is the beloved deity of all Maharashtrians.
The Ganesh-utsav was celebrated at the houses of leading
Sardar families like Patwardhan, Mujumdar, Khasgiwale etc… In 1893, Sardar
Nanasaheb Khasgiwale for the first time celebrated the utsav in Pune as a public
festival and that year 3 more Sarvajanik Ganesh utsavas were celebrated by
Ghotawdekar, Kasgiwale and Bhau Rangari. For the first time a immersion
procession was also taken out on the roads.
The well known freedom fighter and statesman, Lokmanya Bal
Gangadhar Tilak, realized that Ganesh Festival would be a way of uniting people
in a common cause and in this manner a possible means of bringing about
political consciousness under the guise of a religious celebration, with freedom
being the ultimate goal. He started celebrating Ganeshotsav as a public
festival by establishing a Sarvajanik Ganpati at Vinchurkarwada in 1894 and
today it is the most popular event in the State.
Ganesh festival begins on Ganesh Chaturthi - 4th
day of Bhadrapada Shukla (Shuddha) Paksha, when Ganesh Pratishthapana is
performed and the festival is concluded with the Ganpati Visarjana (immersion
procession) on Anant Chaturdashi (14th day of Bhadrapada
Shukla Paksha). However, some people do immersion after one & a half day, some
do it after 3 days, 5 days & so on… depending on the tradition of the family or
the Mandal. In major cities of Maharashtra like Mumbai, Pune,
Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Solapur etc…the immersion process goes on
for hours even over 24 hours.
Usually Ganesh Festival falls in August/September.
Today Ganesh Festival has not remained just a popular
festival, but it has become very critical & important Economic Activity for Maharashtra. Many
artists, industries, businesses survive on this mega event. Ganesh Festival
also provides a Stage for budding artists to present their art to the public.