It is that time of the year when one sees Maharashtra and other parts of India soaked in the flavors of fanfare, joy and pomp to celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi which marks the birth of Lord Ganesha. After 10 days of fun filled devotion to the lovable lord, the celebrations come to a climax by immersion of Ganpati in water, known as Ganapati Visarjan. Bidding adieu only to be welcomed with greater sprightliness next year.
Lord Ganesha is always portrayed with a sweet in his hand. Little wonder then that on Ganesh Chaturthi a whole lot of festive delicacies are prepared as offering. Lord Ganesha's favorite sweet was the Ukadee che Modak. These are delicate sweet steamed rice (flour) dumplings traditionally filled with a coconut and jaggery mixture. The dumplings can be steamed or fried. The puja concludes by making an offering of twenty-one modaks to the deity and as prasad to the devotees. Karanji is another sweet popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Similar to modak but with a differnt shape and is fried. Some of the other sweets prepared on this festival are Rice Kheer, Besan ke Ladoo and Boondi Ladoo. After the Lord 'tastes' the offerings, known as Naivedya, they are relished by his devotees.
Did you know that people do not look at the moon on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi? There is a fascinating story behind it. According to the legend Lord Ganesha was very fond of sweet puddings. On one of his birthdays he was going around accepting the offerings of sweet puddings. Having eaten plenty, he set out on his mouse. Suddenly the mouse stumbled as he saw a snake, making Lord Ganesha have a great fall. As a result of which his stomach burst open and all the puddings spilled out. In fury he caught hold of the snake and tied it around his belly.
Seeing all this, the moon in the sky had a hearty laugh. This churlish behavior of the moon annoyed him immensely and he cursed that no one should look at the moon on the Ganesh Chaturthi day.
At the onset of the festival, Ganesha visits his beloved devotees in the form of clay idols, which are brought home, adorned and worshiped gloriously for the next 10 days. On the last day, Anant Chaturdashi , with great fervor these idols are immersed in water, hearts brimming with aplomb hope for his comeback next year.
The exquisite pandals, elegant rangolis, the dazzling lights and the divine chants and aartis, Oh so mesmerizing! Cities and homes brimming with radiance and delight. Like Ganesha's wide appeal as 'the God for Everyman', this festival is rejoiced by one and all.