The festive season in India is all set to begin with Ganesh Chaturthi this Monday (Sept 5).
While Indians, especially the Marathis, are all set to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesha, the God of fortune and wisdom, with vigour and enthusiasm, here are 10 interesting facts about the Ganpati Festival:
1. Ganesh Chaturthi is the day when Lord Shiva declared Ganesha to be above all Hindu Gods, excluding Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati, and that every devotee will worship him first during every festival.
2. It is considered inauspicious to look at the moon during Ganesh Chaturthi as the moon was cursed by the latter for laughing at his pot belly.
The reason why the God has a broken tooth (he is also called Ek Dant) is because he uprooted his tooth and hurled it at the moon in anger.
3. In Maharashtra, the festival was initiated by warrior king and founder of Maratha empire Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
4. It was freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was behind making Ganesh Chaturthi as a public event in modern India.
In 1893, he organized Ganesh Chaturthi Utsav in Pune to encourage social gatherings and evoke patriotism among the masses against the British Raj.
5. It is in Maharashtra, Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh where Ganesh Festival is celebrated in the grandest way. Hindus living in the UK, the US, Thailand, Mauritius and the Terai region of Nepal also worship the elephant-headed God in a big way.
6. In 2015, over 50,000 Ganesh idols were worshiped in Mumbai pandals alone.
7. As Ganesha is also the God of intelligence, the festival is also very popular among the students.
8. In 2014, the total insurance cover for Ganesh pandals in Mumbai was Rs 450 crore, out of which, the famous Lalbaugcha Raja was itself worth Rs 51 crore.
9. Apart from Mumbai and Pune, Pen town in Maharashtra’s Raigad district has now emerged as a hub for making Ganesh idols.
As per recent figures, there are almost 500 workshops and over 800 idol-makers who shape up more than 7 lakh idols every year, including those exported to the UK and the US.
10. Ganesha idols are generally seen with four hands representing his divinity.
But some are also seen with six, eight, ten, twelve and fourteen hands, each holding a different symbol. Research says, there are as many as 57 symbols associated with the God.
(Sources: Rediff, TOI, Maharashtra Times, Loksatta)
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.