The bringer of auspicious beginnings and remover of obstacles – Lord Ganesha is the deity that millions of Hindus call upon when starting something new. Ganesha Chaturthi marks the start of the festival that honours His arrival on earth for 11 days of festivities. In Southern India, this festival is known as Gowri-Ganesha Habba and is celebrated in Bhadrapada month. The rituals and significance are the same as Hartalika Teej, celebrated in Northern India.
On this day, Goddess Gowri, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati is said to make her annual visit to her parents’ house. This is followed the next day with the arrival of Lord Ganesha, her son, to escort her back to Kailash Parvat. The arrival of Goddess Gowri is aavahan and their departure is marked with visarjan, when they begin their journey back to their heavenly abode after an 11-day stay.
Rituals and Celebrations
All states celebrate this festival in different ways; however, it is in Karnataka and Maharashtra that this festival can be witnessed in all its glory.
In Karnataka, households perform the Swarna Gowri Vratha. Married women and even young girls keep a fast on this day. Idols of the goddess are made out of turmeric, known as jalagauri or arishinadagauri, which is placed on a plate and surrounded by rice or wheat. Around it, a mantapa is built with banana stems and mango leaves. The idol is decorated with clothes made from cotton and flowers. As part of the fasting, women are given gauridaara, which is a 16-knotted sacred thread, tied on the right wrist as a blessing from the goddess.
For the vratha, five baginas are prepared which include arshina (turmeric), kumkum (vermilion), bangles, beads, a comb and small mirror, coconut, rice, pulses, rava, and jaggery. One bagina is to the goddess and the remaining are given as blessings to married women. As part of the rituals, the married woman’s parents send Gauri Habbada Mangaladravya, which is their blessings in the form of presents.
Households prepare hoLige or Obattu, payasa, chitranna, Kosumbari as offerings to the deity. Families come together to celebrate the festival that continues on to the next day with Vinayaka Chaturdashi.
In Maharashtra, large clay idols of Lord Ganesha are installed in the societies and smaller ones at home, where pooja is performed with fervour and devotion. These pandals, which house the idols, welcome devotees all through the eleven days. On the final day, grand processions with chants and music are taken out throughout the city where devotees carry the idols of Goddess Gowri and Lord Ganesha to the waterfronts for immersion as a symbol of farewell.
The following mool-mantras can be recited during the pooja:
For Goddess Gowri:
|| सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ||
For Lord Ganesha:
|| वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समःप्रभ
निर्विघ्नं कुरुमेदेवः सर्व कार्येषु सर्वदा ||