Vignaharta (Remover of Obstacles) as Lord Ganesha is known to be, is worshipped with much fervour and devotion by Hindus all over the country. Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrated in the month of Bhadrapad (August-September), receives great fanfare in the Western, Central and Southern parts of India. The idols are immersed in water bodies after 10 days on Ananth Chaturdashi.
Ganpati Bappa is known to be a lover of mithais and devotees go into a sweet frenzy offering bhog to the Elephant God. The basic ingredients of the divine offering are much the same anywhere — coconut, jaggery, dry fruits, elaichi powder stuffed in wheat flour or rice flour casings — but differently shaped and named in different states. Puran poli, coconut rice, motichoor laddu, shrikhand, kele ka sheera, rava pongal, payasam are some of the other bhogs offered during the ten-day festival.
In Odisha, it is celebrated as the birthday of God Shivanka and mainly observed by educational institutions and students. Modak and laddu are part of the bhog offered in pandals. While MP has its share of besan laddoos and rava sheera prasad, Rajasthan’s bhog is in the form of wheat flour-based churma laddoos.
They call it Vinayaka Chavithi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and it is a much looked-forward-to festival in these states. Women get busy preparing seven to eight varieties each day but the traditional naivedhyam of undrallu or kudumulu is a must. These are steamed rice balls served with a spicy-sweet-sour chutney called allam pachad. Bellam undrallu is prepared using jaggery and cardamom powder. Palathalikalu is another offering made of rice flour, sago, gur, milk, clarified butter with a garnish of cashewnuts, raisins flavoured with elaichi powder.
Vinayaka Chaturthi, as it is known in God’s Own Country, is observed in the month of Chingam. Chingam being the first month of the year according to Malayalam calendar (it is different from Gregorian calendar), there is the possibility of the festival occurring before it’s observed in other states. Kumbilappam is a traditional sweet offered. They are sweet dumplings flavoured with tej patta (bay leaf). The mashed fruits used in the filling may be banana or jackfruit with grated coconut and gur, wrapped in bay leaves and steamed.
During Vinayaka Chaturthi in Karnataka, the festivities commence by celebrating Vinayaka’s mother Gauri (Parvati). Here devotees offer prayers to both Mother and Son in various temples. Goddess Gauri is worshipped for a long and happy married life by the women of this state. Vinayaka’s favourite prasadam here is panchakajjaya made with gram flour, coconut, til seeds, sugar, cardamom and clarified butter.
Being the patron deity of the State, it is the most momentous festival of Maharashtra, celebrated over 10 days with great flourish. Elaborate arrangements can be seen in grand pandals and homes to welcome Bappa. Visarjan or immersion of the idols are done in the Arabian Sea, lakes or small ponds. Mumbai, Pune, and other regions of this state adorn huge idols in the most attractive manner with yellow and red silk, jewellery, flowers along with his vehicle mooshak. Steamed or Ukadiche modaks are a favourite bhog besides fried modaks, shrikand, puran poli and laddoos.
Popularly known as Chovoth in Goa, a matoli (a wooden canopy with seasonal vegetables) is put up where Ganpati idol is installed. The idol is usually made out of eco-friendly materials.
After singing bhajans, and doing aarti, prasad like modak and neuri are offered to God. The modaks are regular sweet ones, steamed or deep fried. Neuri or nevri is special to Goa and it resembles karanji. They are deep fried delicacies stuffed with coconut, jaggery and dry fruits.
Idols are decorated delightfully. After puja-arti, naivedhyams of modagam or kozhakattai, chana dal sundal (a savoury snack), neiyappam and payasam are offered. The unique modaks are the savoury ones apart from the traditional sweet. Hing-flavoured Ellu (sesame) and ullundu (urad dal) modaks are prepared in oblong shapes. Ammini kozhakattais are marble-sized rice flour dumplings with green chillies, hing powder, and curry leaves. Sundals are boiled chana dal or whole black chanas, seasoned and garnished with grated coconut, green chillies and curry leaves.
The idols in pandals are adorned with gold and silver ornaments. Bhajans and cultural events are organised. Keeping vrat (fasting), changing Vedic hymns, consuming only sattvik food are observed. Modak and panchkhad — a sweet made of coconuts, poppy seeds, sugar, dates and almonds comprise the prasad offered and distributed.
In Ahmedabad, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great grandeur, lighting and decoration. Bursting of firecrackers and dholaks accompany huge Ganesha idols on the day of Ganesh visarjan. Bhog to the lord are modaks, ladoos, shrikhand and kheer.