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South India is famous for its rich heritage and culture. A wide array of festivals is celebrated in the state that showcases the culture of the place. One of the major festivals celebrated in the state is Vinayaka or Ganesh Chaturthi. This festival basically marks the birth of Lord Ganesha. With a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement, this popular festival is celebrated in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This festival continues for ten days, and in the Hussain Sagar Lake, Ganesh idols are immersed on the day the festival culminates.
The popular Elephant headed God Lord Ganesha is considered to be a “Vighnaharta”. Before starting any auspicious work, Lord Ganesha is offered first prayers. After offering prayers to Lord Ganesha, other Gods are worshipped.
God of wisdom and power, Lord Ganesha is Lord Shiva’s eldest son and Kartikeya and Skanda’s elder brother. He is considered to be the energy component of Lord Shiva and hence he is referred to as the son of Umadevi and Shankar. Mothers hope to get Ganesha’s sterling virtues by praying Lord Ganesha.
As the legend goes, one day a boy was made with turmeric by Lord Shiva’s wife, Parvathi and bring the idol to life. The mother then asked the boy to stand guard at the door so that by the time she takes a bath, no body enters inside. Suddenly, Lord Shiva came there and tried to pry open the door. Since the boy had been instructed not to allow anyone to enter inside, the boy refused to open the door. Shiva, in a fit of anger, severed head of the boy using his Trishul. When boy’s mother, Parvathi came to know about this incident, she started crying. Watching this, Lord Shiva’s heart melted, and he promised to bring the boy’s life back. He asked his disciples to look for a boy’s head whose mother is sleeping with her back to her boy. After searching aggressively, Lord’s disciples could only find an elephant head. Since there was no other option, the head of a bay elephant was fixed on the boy’s body. Since then, the buy was known as Gajanan, the boy with an elephant head. This day is celebrated as Lord Ganesha’s birth.
Vinayaka or Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the significant festival in the Maharastrian region. Today, it is also being celebrated in Andhra Pradesh with great excitement. The festival goes on from seven to ten days, and the state is decorated and lighted in a beautiful manner.
The Pooja begins with the first day of the festival wherein Lord Ganesha’s idol is placed on a pedestal symbolising a throne. The Pooja is followed by rituals that are performed by a priest, and the idol is prayed with great fervor and enthusiasm. Later the idol is dipped into the holy water. Sweets like modak that is made from rice flour and sweetened coconut. Flowers are offered, and incense is lighted. Rest of the days, Ganesh Stuti is recited, and idol is worshipped daily in the evenings, as well as, mornings. The idols of Lord Ganesha are installed in houses too.
After ten days of worshipping Lord Ganesha, his idol is immersed in a lake, and it is believed that Lord Ganesha returns to the heavenly abode. Great enthusiasm and vigor are seen during the farewell procession when idols are taken to any water body and immersed. Devotees pray to Lord Ganesha to come back again. A lot of dancers, singers, priests, acrobats and various onlookers accompany the procession. Before immersing idols of Lord Ganesha in Hussain Sagar Lake, flowers, sweets, idols and aarti is offered. This is known as “Ganesh Visarjan”.
Huge crowds accompany the procession during immersing idols in the lake witnessing Grand Visarjan. The processions start early in the morning and continues till evening.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on Hindu calendar’s Shukla Paksha in the time between August and September. The corresponding Hindu month is Bhadra. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. The devotion for Lord Ganesha is quite high among Hindus. They seek blessings from the Lord and wish for health and happiness.