By Gayatri Souryaja

Festive season is here. Sales, discounts and other offers in the shops owing to Ganesh Chaturthi can be witnessed all around us. Ganesha idols, his accessories, flowers, all his favorites are being sold almost everywhere! It is bliss looking around at everyone being so happy, so content and all set for GANESH CHATURTHI.

For most of us Ganesh Chaturthi is about fun and food (kazhakattai, modakas,laddus,..Etc.)  And frankly, it is. Many of us have a vague idea about why Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated, the birth of Ganesha.

The story behind birth of Ganesha is very interesting. Goddess Parvati is the goddess of Shakti (energy). Once when Lord Shiva was not at his abode (Mt. Kailash), Goddess Parvati decides to pour life to a sandalwood sculpture she created to restrict others from entering as she took bath. Later, when Lord Shiva returned to Kailash, he was obstructed by this boy. Shiva was enraged and asked his troop (ganas) to charge upon Ganesha.  Ganesha, being the son of goddess of energy herself, defeated everyone. Lord Indra sensed Lord Shiva’s anger and sent his troop to fight against Ganesha. Yet again, Ganesha defeated everyone. Infuriated by this, Lord Shiva beheaded Ganesha. Goddess Parvati was agitated at this act of Shiva. Never having seen her in such rage, Shiva ordered his troop to get Ganesha’s head back. The troop searched for a while but all they could find was an elephant’s face. Lord Shiva fixed Ganesha’s head and that was when he was named GANESHA-(the king of ganas).

Legend has it that, praying to Ganesha can help us overcome all the obstacles faced. Hence he is also known as Vighnaharta (Vighna-obstacles, Harta –destroyer).

Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated in the month of Bhadra on the fourth day (Chaturthi) which generally falls between 19th august and 20th September. On Chaturthi, the idol of the lord is installed in houses and prayers are offered. It is believed that Lord Ganesha is invited to our home to bless everyone around with prosperity and health. Then, the idol of Ganesha is immersed in water on the 3rd, 5th, 7th or the 11th day after the rituals.

Beliefs behind the immersion of Ganesha’s idols in large water bodies are:

  1. Immersion is a farewell that represents lord Ganesha with the ocean of consciousness.
  2. Lord Ganesha, who listened to the prayers and rituals of the devotees for ten days, returns to his heavenly abode (Kailash).immersion is a send-off to Ganesha.
  3. It is said that no one except lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva can bear the power of lord Ganesha. So, Lord Ganesha should pass to his heavenly abode through lord Vishnu (i.e. water).

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over the world majorly in India and Nepal.

In India, it is celebrated on a very grand scale in the state of Maharashtra. A grand procession follows the prayers and rituals on the 11th day for the Visarjan(immersion of the idol).

Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius dates back to 1896. The first Ganesh Chaturthi Pooja was held in the 7 cascades valley next to Henrietta village by the Bhiwajee family who are still celebrating this festival after more than a century. This festival gained such popularity over the years that Mauritian government has attributed a public holiday on Ganesh Chaturthi.

In Malaysia and Singapore, this festival is more commonly known as Vinayagar Chakurthi because of the relatively larger Tamil speaking minority in South Asian countries.

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the UK by the migrant Indian population. The Hindu culture and heritage society, UK-a south all based organization celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi for the first time in 2005 at the Vishwa Hindu temple. The idol was immersed in Thames River.


As Ganesh Visarjan is as important as the Ganesh Pooja (prayers), we must be very careful when we choose the material used for lord Ganesha’s idol. Due to larger demand for the idols, the manufacturers are producing idols made of plaster of paris, as it is easier to mould, lighter and less expensive than clay.

However, plaster is non-biodegradable and insoluble in water and the chemicals paints used to beautify these idols contain heavy metals like cadmium and mercury, causing water pollution. Also, on immersion, non-biodegradable accessories that originally adorned the idol accumulate in the layers of the sand on the beach.

Every revolution arise from the change a single person implements and the inspiration they become. Let us be the change. Let us hold hands and raise against the usage of idols made of plaster. Let us all go green this festive season and buy an idol made of clay.

ganesh clay

When the world celebrates the birthday of Ganesha with colours and sweets, The MIT Quill wishes you all a happy and safe Ganesh Chathurthi.



*“Ganpati Bappa Moriya” is a Marathi verse meaning “Oh Ganpati My Lord”



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