Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is the Hindu festival of Lord Ganesh. It is a 10-day festival marking the birthday of Ganesh, who is widely worshipped for auspicious beginnings. Ganesh is the patron of arts and sciences and the deity of intellect and wisdom, also known as Remover of Obstacles.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India and among the Hindu Indian diaspora, and it is observed in an especially grand manner in Maharashtra. Prior to the festival, skilled artisans prepare clay models of Lord Ganesha. Houses are cleaned as devotees prepare to bring the Lord Ganesh into their homes and install the deity. Special prayers, devotional chanting and singing are performed for all 10 days. Delicious sweets are prepared and distributed on this joyous occasion. On the 11th day, the Ganesh statue is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing and fanfare to be immersed in a river or the sea.
This festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, and the date usually falls between Aug. 20 and Sept. 15. In 2013, Ganesh Chaturthi begins on September 9.
Devotees carry an idol of Hindu elephant god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, into the water from Girgaum Chowpatty beach before immersing it in the waters of the Arabian Sea on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on September 11, 2011. Idols are taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual send-off of his journey towards his abode in “Kailash”, while taking away with him the misfortunes of all mankind. (Reuters/Vivek Prakash)
A man carries an idol of Hindu elephant headed god Ganesha to immerse it in the Arabian Sea on the fifth day of the ten day long Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on September 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Devotees carry an idol of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh for immersion into the Arabian Sea on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, September 29, 2012. Ganesh idols are taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing and later immersed in a river or the sea symbolising a ritual seeing-off of his journey towards his abode, taking away with him the misfortunes of all mankind. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash
Indian Hindu devotees swim with an idol of Lord Ganesha in an artificial pond, dug for the ongoing Ganesh Chathurthi festival to help control pollution and waste, along the banks of the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad. Hindu devotees bring home idols of Lord Ganesha during the ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ in order to invoke his blessings for wisdom and prosperity, during the eleven day long festival which culminates with the immersion of the idols. (Sam PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)