is a festival in his honour and is celebrated in the
states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra
Pradesh. Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati is widely
worshipped as the munificent god of wisdom.
Started by Chhattrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler,
to dissemniate culture and nationalism, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival
was given a new impetus by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak
to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy
the British who had banned public assemblies. The festival
infused the Indians with a sense of unity and revived
their patriotic spirit.
To appreciate this occasion, one must go to Mumbai where
preparations begin months in advance. Images of Ganesha
are installed within homes as well as in places of assembly.
Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration
and Ganesha is fervently worshipped for about 7-10 days.
On the day of the Chaturthi, the last of the days dedicated
to the elephant-headed god, thousands of processions
converge on the beaches of Mumbai to immerse the holy
idols in the sea. This immersion is accompanied by drum
beats, devotional songs and dancing.
Every year, the largest Ganesh idol is installed at
Khairatabad in Hyderabad, which is more than 30 ft tall.