Ganesha Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrating the birthday of the lord Ganesha. The festival celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence. It is celebrated specially in India and by hindus living all over the world but also has been observed in Nepal. The festival is held on shukla chaturthi in the Hindu month of Bhaadrapada and ends on Anant chaturdashi i.e. in the months of August or September of the Gregorian calendar.
The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly. Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts with special "modaks" which are loved by Lord Ganesha. A modak is a dumpling made from rice or wheat flour, stuffed with grated coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and other condiments and steamed or fried. The festival ends on the tenth day after start, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea.
It is unclear when the festival started, but has been publicly celebrated in Pune since the era of Shivaji (1630–1680, founder of the Maratha Empire). It became a major social and public event with sponsorship of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj after Mughal-Maratha wars, and again in the 19th century after public appeal by Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, who championed it as a means to find the way around the colonial British government ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation in 1892.
The Madras High Court ruled in 2004 that immersion of Ganesh idols is unlawful because it incorporates chemicals that pollute the sea water. In Goa the sale of plaster-of-Paris Ganesha idols has been banned by the state government and celebrants are encouraged to buy traditional, artisan-made clay idols. Due to environmental concerns, a number of families now avoid bodies of water and let the clay statue disintegrate in a barrel of water at home. After a few days, the clay is spread in the garden. In some cities a public, eco-friendly process is used for the immersion.
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