Hindus celebrate the Elephant-headed Lord Ganesh (or Ganesha) with the holiday Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival for meditation, prayer, community, and charity.
Here we have provided a quick guide to the exciting Hindu celebration.
The Celebration of Lord Ganesh
Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesh, who is the son of the god Shiva and Parvati. Lord Ganesh, who is often represented in the form of an elephant, is considered to be the god of wisdom. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in different times each year because it is based on the changing moon. This year, in 2014, Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated on August 29 and will finish on September 8.
Traditions of Ganesh Chaturthi
Around three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, a life-like clay figure of Lord Ganesh is created. The size of that statue is up to the people making it, but some are over twenty-five feet. When the actual festival day comes around, the statue is put on a raised platform created by temples, put underneath tents and tended by priests. Then ‘shhodashapachara’, or sixteen ways of paying tribute, are offered to the statue as a symbol of the people offering them to the elephant god. Many offerings include coconut and red flowers. The statue is then anointed with red paste.
After ten days, the statue is paraded through the streets, and the entire community comes together to celebrate. This is also a chance for the community to care for itself through blood donation camps, free medical checkups, and charitably giving to the poor. At the end of the festival, the statue is ceremoniously immersed in water.
Ganesh is often described as “the god for everyone,” and Ganesh Chaturthi is a great opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate as one. This often promotes charitable thoughts for the needy.