The widely celebrated Ganesh Festival begins on August 31, with a rare constellation of stars. The constellation is considered to be the same, at the time of his birth. The constellation is said to be ‘Lambodhar Yog’, and occurred after about 300 years.
The astrologers also consider this year’s festival as a good omen, as seven positive Muhurt occur during the ten-day festival.
A public celebration of the Ganesh festival is of recent origin, the ten-day festival is ages old. There are many mythological stories known behind the celebrations. The first day ‘Chaturthi’ is considered to be the birthday of Lord Ganesh. It is also called the rebirth of Lord Ganesh after his father Lord Shiva severed his head and installed the head of an elephant. Another story says that Maharishi Valmiki had treated his body heat with mud, while the latter was writing Mahabharata for Valmiki. After ten days the mud was removed. The idols of Lord Ganesh are made of mud and immersed after ten days.
The stories may be different, but the devotees celebrate this festival with full faith in this god of wealth, knowledge and wisdom.
The public celebration of the festival is known to be started by freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He found it a method to bring people together and awaken them to fight against British rule. Drama, and folk songs were used to generate awareness among people. When the British realised the main motive behind these celebrations, they banned certain dramas. It is also stated that such a celebration was also started by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
The stories may be different, but the celebrations have changed with the passage of time. Decoration and entertainment has taken over the devotion and community gathering. Earlier the festival was celebrated through public contribution. Now, most of the public celebrations are sponsored by politicians and even underworld dons. Huge money is poured in and people are emotionally appealed to have ‘Darshan’ of particular Ganesh idols.
Hundreds of Ganesh Mandals have been formed. The debates, lectures on current important issues, and sports competitions have taken a back seat. They are replaced by the screening of films, orchestra, competitions in singing filmy songs etc.
Nagpur is also geared up for the celebrations. The markets are crowded to buy idols and decoration materials. The cost of the idols and decoration has gone very high. At the same time purchasing power of people also has increased. Artificial flowers and lighting have replaced the natural ones. The celebrations however have not ended.
The festival will begin on August 31 and conclude on September 9, with the immersion of Ganesh Idols. Nagpur Municipal Corporation has made arrangements for the immersion of idols in artificial tanks. The steps have been taken to prevent pollution of water in water bodies in the city. Besides the civic body, several NGOs have also appealed to the people to protect the water bodies from getting polluted.