Wishing all readers a very happy Ganesha and gowri festival
Ganesha Chaturthi or Ganesha Festival is a day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees. It is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi in Sanskrit,. The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). Typically, the day falls sometime between August 20 and September 15. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Ananta Chaturdashi.
In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak, an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter reshaped the annual Ganesh festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. It is interesting to note that the festival was not celebrated in a public manner until this time but was a family affair among Hindus, who used to celebrate it in a traditional manner.
Lokamanya Tilak visualized the cultural importance of this deity and popularised Ganesha Chaturthi as a National Festival “to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins” and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra.
Tilak chose Ganesha as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule because of his wide appeal as “The God for Everyman”. It was an important festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra, but acquired a more organized form all over India during the Swaraj movement (Freedom struggle).
Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. The festival facilitated community participation & involvement in the form of learned discourses, dance dramas, poetry recital, musical concerts, debates, etc. It served as a meeting ground for common people of all castes and communities, in a time when social & political gatherings were forbidden by the British Rule to exercise control over the population.