Ganeshotsav 2022: Welcoming god of luck, dispeller of sorrows

In a conversation with Free Press Journal, Suhasini Arya, director of Mittal College, talks about the evolution of Ganeshotsav festivities in Maharashtra.

Sherine RajUpdated: Saturday, August 27, 2022, 12:07 PM IST
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Marathi actor Prajakta Parab poses for a photoshoot at a Ganesh idol workshop in the city on Friday | Salman Ansari

The city and Maharashtra are gearing up to celebrate Ganeshotsav, which is set to begin on Aug 31, without any stringent restrictions for the first time in three years. Ganesh, as most of us know, is worshipped and revered by millions worldwide. He is perhaps one of the most interesting deities in the Hindu pantheon.

“The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesh is the god of good luck and auspiciousness and the dispeller of problems and obstacles — Vignahartha,” explains ardent devotee Suhasini Arya, director of Mittal College.

While it is unknown when (or how) Ganeshotsav first came to be celebrated, the festival was celebrated as a single-day event since at least the days of the legendary Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji (1630–1680) in the 17th century, according to historical records.

“Lord Ganesh was their kuladevata or family deity and the Peshwas in the 18th century were also devotees of Ganesh," Dr Arya said.

"The festival begins on the fourth day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada which usually occurs between late August and early September, depending on the cycles of the moon.”

During the British Raj, the festival saw a revival in Maharashtra piloted by freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak who initiated the 10-day grand public celebration of Ganeshotsav in the region.

Regarding the importance of the Ganesh Utsav in the freedom movement, Arya added saying, the festival became a meeting ground for people from all castes and communities at a time when the British discouraged social and political gatherings to control the masses. The festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the forms of intellectual discourse, poetry recitals, plays, concerts, and folk dances.

Ganesh Festival was used to share knowledge and spare the message to fight for independence. Many freedom fighters influenced by Tilak, gave lectures on such platforms and endorsed the promotion of Swadeshi Goods.

Over the years one has seen the rise in innumerable Ganesha mandals who organise massive celebrations for the ten days. They compete fiercely to introduce variety and a sense of the contemporary into their displays and the Ganesha statues installed by them.

Usually, alongside the traditionally decorated idol, it’s not unusual to find themes selected from currently popular or significant happenings in our country. “This year too, especially after two years of the pandemic restrictions, the country will once again experience the marvel of the Ganesh Utsav,” she added.

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