Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Vinayak Chaturthi.
Ganeshotsav is a Hindu festival commemorating the birth of the Hindu god Ganesha. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesha’s clay idols privately in homes and publicly on elaborate pandals.
Observances include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts, such as prayers and vrata Offerings and prasada from the daily prayers, that are distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka as it is believed to be a favourite of Ganesha.
The festival ends on the tenth day after the start, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea, called visarjan on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi.
In Mumbai alone, around 150,000 statues are immersed annually. Thereafter the clay idol dissolves, and Ganesha is believed to return to his celestial abode.
Although it is unknown when Ganesh Chaturthi was first observed, the festival has been publicly celebrated in Pune since the era of King Shivaji. The Peshwa in the 18th century were devotees of Ganesha and started as a public Ganesh festival in their capital city of Pune during the month of Bhadrapad.
After the start of the British Raj, the Ganesh festival lost state patronage and became a private family celebration in Maharashtra until its revival by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.
Indian freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, better known as Lokmanya Tilak championed it as a means to circumvent the colonial British government ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation in 1892.
The festival celebrates Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India, especially in the states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa.
Ganesh Chaturthi is also observed in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora elsewhere such as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, other parts of the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, the United States, and Europe.
In the Gregorian calendar, Ganesh Chaturthi falls between 22 August and 20 September every year.
Although it was unknown when or where Ganesh Chaturthi was first observed, the public celebration was initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Pune in the year 1893. At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic and martial arts competitions are also held.
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