Pardon me if I sound foolish but till now I had thought that Ganesh Chaturthi was Ganesh’s birthday. See I told you, I know you must be thinking what a fool she is.
Ganesh Chaturthi has always been special. It meant gorging on varieties of food and of course a holiday. Years back in Bhilai we used to go to a family friend’s place who celebrated it in their home. It meant that all konkanis got together that day and amidst the rituals, we chatted and ate.
Mumbai Ganesh Chaturthis were also special. It meant celebrating at the sisters place. And on the ‘visarjan’day going to Saath rasta simply because we could see all the idols. And of course we feasted that day too.
Now it is more about going to the ancestral home (if we are in India). If we are in Bahrain it means preparing a feast at home and then going over to the festivities at Maharastra Mandal. In short this festival is special and we make the most of it.
But I am digressing!!
One day Gowri that is Parvati decides to go to her maternal place but then it is ‘Shravan’. It is raining and of course Shravan is a sacred month, which has a lot of rituals involved. So Shiva advises her not to go.
Then comes Bhadrapad. And Gowri again requests her husband for permission to go home. Now as it is known Shiva loves Gowri a lot and cannot bear separation from her.( One of the reasons that unmarried girls are asked to perform Austerities on Monday-Shiva’s day’ so that they get loving husbands as Shiva) So he says no. She says I cannot ignore my parents. It has been so long since I met them, I have to go and meet them. After a long and loving debate, Shiva agrees to send Gowri
But on one condition. On the fourth day Ganesha would come to her parents home to take her. She agrees.
While coming down o Bhumi she comes as water and that water mixes with the soil. So that is why a symbolic idol is made of clay or mud and she is worshipped on the third day of Bhadrapad. So she comes down to bhumi for three days from the first to the third day of Bhadrapad. And on the third day she is worshipped and a feast is prepared. The married ones are given gifts of ‘sowbhagya’ that is bangles, cloth, kaajal etc and the unmarried ones are given some gifts too.
The point to note is that Gowri festival is about celebrating the married daughter coming to her maternal place. Unlike to the stories which we hear that a daughters place belongs to her husband’s place. Gowri festival celebrates the arrival of the daughter to meet her parents. It is a day of rejoicing, meeting and of course food.
And then it is the fourth day of Bhadrapad and Ganesha arrives to take his mother back and it is a double celebration. Firstly the grandson has arrived, secondly it is Lord Ganesha. so celebrations galore. But the grandparents want to spend some more time with the daughter and the grandson. So they entice him with some more of the yummy food and He agrees. And this goes on till the fourteenth day and Shiva cannot take it anymore and threatens to destroy the world.
And so the grandparents along with the neighbours, friends and relatives take both of them and leave them near the waterways and they leave as they came-in liquid form. And that is why the idols are immersed in water.