I have extremely fond memories of Ganesha-Gowri festival. It was one of the grand festivals of the year for the family and for Mysore city itself. Our road would be decorated with serial lights, as the street kids would erect a huge podium using Coconut palms to celebrate the festival. A huge Ganesha clay idol would be bought from the market to install in the podium.
Picture1 – Community celebrations
Finance to support the community celebration would pour from contributions by the residents of the road. Another mode to collect money was to use a sealed tin box with a slot to facilitate the donor to slip money into it. We would go clanking the box in front of every person who unfortunately happened to walk or ride on our road. We would keep walking along with them and making noise until he/she stuffed some coins or notes into the box. The community celebration of this festival was encouraged by freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, to bring people together and forge unity among them. Gramophone would be used to blare the latest Kannada and Hindi film songs. The day would start with the famous Kannada song “Gajamukhane Ganapathiye ninage vandane Nambidavara palina kalpatharu neene…”
Picture2 – Celebrations at home
Studies were unheard of during this festival and we would all wear new clothes and with a box filled with manthrakshathe (rice smeared with kumkum and Turmeric powder) would go from house to house to pray and prostrate before lord Ganesha. Our target was to cover 101 houses with Ganesh idol. Some of them would offer us candies or chocolates. After coming back home we would wait in anticipation to watch a drama, dance, or an orchestra that would be organized by our street kids.
Picture3 – Cultural Program
Ganesha Chaturthi is the day when Lord Ganesha was born. Ganesha is considered the Hindu god of learning and the destroyer of obstacles. Any auspicious event or pooja is always started with prayers to Lord Ganesh. This festival falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada Shukla Cahtruthi. The next day of Swarna Gowri Vrata. August – September by Gregorian calender. This year (2016) it is on 5th September. On this day a clay idol of Lord Ganesha is kept on some rice in a beautifully decorated mantapa (platform) at homes. The men and boys in the family perform the pooja with great devotion to the chanting of the mantra. The lord is offered with yegnopavita (sacred thread), a gejjevastra (21 lines of cotton thread decorated with kumkum and turmeric powder), kumkum, turmeric powder, Chandra (an orange sacred powder), sandal paste, garike/durva pathre (21 tender grass), 21 different types of flowers and 21 different types of leaves to the chanting of shlokas and mantras.
Picture4 – Pooja Items
Delicious food is prepared on this day and offered to the lord. Modaka and Kadabu is offered to the lord along with Payasa, Rice, Tovve/Dal, Palya, Kosambari, Chitranna etc.,
Picture5 – Habbada Adige/Festival Feast
It is believed that those who see the moon on this day will face false charges. This is because Lord Ganesha cursed the moon on this day, but the curse can be overcome by reading the Samonthopakyana (story of Sri Krishna) a story in the Hindu epic Mahabharatha.
Ganesha’s idol is kept at home for 1 – 7 days, depending on the convenience, and an auspicious day is chosen for visarjane / send off. A small ritural is performed chanting the Visarjana manthra. With great enthusiasm the community idol is taken on a parade around the city with music and bursting of crackers and shouting “Vidya Ganapathi Ki Jai” the idol will be immersed in wells, ponds or rivers.
Picture6 – Visarjane/Send-off Parade
The idols at home are immersed in wells or in buckets filled with water with ringing bells and chanting of mantra in the background. Again special food like Bisibelebhath, Mosaranna (Curd Rice) are prepared as a send off offering to the Lord, which is distributed among people.