Lord Ganesha is a favorite God of all elders and youngsters. Maybe because size doesn’t matter in his case or may be because of his foodie nature with special weakness for modak (sweet dumplings) and laddoos. But the main reason is that Ganesha festival is a huge celebration not just at home but in and around neighborhood too. Delicious prasad, beautifully decorated pandals, fragrant dhoop and agarbatti (incense sticks) and shimmering lights emanating the pious vibes in the atmosphere. Everything is special about the Ganesha festival!
Lord Ganesha has been always been part of daily rituals and worship at home since many years. We can be trace it back to almost 5000 years to Vedas and Upanishadas.
Ganesha festival became a public celebration during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj in 16th century to encourage nationalist sentiment. It was discontinued during the subsequent foreign invasions. However, Lokmanya Tilak revived this tradition during the struggle for India’s Independence to give a legit reason for people to come together. We follow many traditions from generations to generations. But every generation adds its bit to the old tradition to make it more compatible with the changing eco systems without hurting its original sentiment!
Due to the current pandemic situation, the manner of celebrating Ganesha festival will undergo a huge change. But it will not change the underlying sentiment.
So here is our ultimate guide to Ganesha festival celebrations at home giving list of some old and some new age traditions you can follow to make it even more special!
Ganesha Festival – Ultimate guide to your celebrations at home
Old traditions part of Ganesha festival
Ganesha festival starts with Ganesha Chaturthi falling on 4th day of Bhadrapada, the sixth month of Hindu calendar. The story is that Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesha out of the turmeric powder on her skin. She asked Bal Ganesha to protect the door as she took a bath. Lord Shiva arrived just then and demanded to see Parvati, but was denied access by Bal Ganesha. He lost his temper and cut Ganesha’s head. When Parvati found out about this she demanded Shiva to fix his mistake. As he went searching for a new head he found a dead elephant and hence brought back an elephant head for Ganesha. This date of resurrection of Lord Ganesha falls on Ganesha Chaturthi and hence is celebrated as a beginning of the 10 day long Ganesha festival.
You can read many more fun stories about Ganesha in our blog to understand the true essence of Ganesha festival – Interesting stories you should tell your kids about Ganapati!
The festival is celebrated for 10 days which ends with idol immersion marking the return of Lord Ganesha to his parents’ house in Mount Kailasa.
These age old traditions have always been a part of our celebrations –
1] Setting up decorative pandal or temporary shrine at home
Although we will miss the decorative pandals all over the city, we will still be busy cleaning the house and creating a decorative pandal for Lord Ganesha. These decorations keep the kids busy as the elders focus on preparation for the upcoming puja.
At our home, we always try to think of a theme but end up doing the traditional lighting and store bought decorations. But there can be many new and creative ideas to decorate the shrine of Ganesha, as suggested in this blog.
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2] Pranapratishtha marking the beginning of Ganesha festival
Idols of Ganapati are installed in all the houses while chanting hymns from vedas and Ganesha Upanishada inviting Lord Ganesha into our home. This Pranapratishtha puja is done on Ganesh Chaturthi. Some people call an expert Guruji to do the puja, while others do it on their own at home. You can buy books (Sampurna Chaturmas) which can guide you through the entire process. You can also refer to this blog for understanding the details of how the puja is to be conducted and the reasons behind various offerings for Lord Ganesha – Ganesha Puja.
3] Prasad of modak and a feast
Lord Ganesha is a known foodie and a big fan of ‘modak‘ (sweet dumpling). So the prasad (offering) of 21 modaks (or in multiples of 21) and a big feast is a highlight of of the day of Ganesha Chaturthi.
You can prepare different variety of modaks for Ganesha puja, but the best known are ‘ukadiche modak’ (steamed dumplings, where coating is of rice flour). Other than the steamed dumplings, you can also prepare sweets such as fried modak, chocolate modak, kesar modak, malai (condensed milk) modak, etc. Check the recipes on this blog – Spice up the curry!
You will like our food blog: Ganesha Chaturthi meal plan
Even after Ganesha Chaturthi, arati (song to praise the God) is sung in the morning and evening and is followed by delicious sweet offering or prasad.
4] Visiting families and friends for darshan
You can still visit your close friends and families for ‘darshan‘ taking the opportunity of this festival. The sweets are exchanged and everybody enjoys a nice long chat with dinner together.
5] ‘Gauri’ tradition
On the third day of Ganesha festival, Jyeshtha and Kanishtha, the two sisters of Lord Ganesha come to visit him. Gauri Pujan is done for wealth, happiness and prosperity. On 5th day, the two sisters go back to their homes. This tradition forms a large part of Ganesha festival celebration in many Maharashtrian families. In few other states, Gauri pujan happens on Ganesha Chaturthi itself. In West Bengal, Gauri is considered to be an Avatar of Parvati with Saraswati and Lakshmi as her daughters and is worshiped as such.
Gauri pujan used to be big thing when we were small, as on the day of arrival of Gauri, we used to dress them up with a saree and adorn them with beautiful jewelry. Then there used to be a decoration all around the two Gauris and Ganesha. Setting up of this temporary shrine for Gauri and Ganapati was almost an entire day’s work. The endless chatting and infinite cups of tea that went with it was inevitable.
6] Other traditions those may not happen this year
There are still a few traditions, although an integral part of Ganesha festival will not happen this year –
- Beautifully decorated pandals (temporary shrines) and huge decoration by Ganesha mandals for celebrating the festival in public.
- Ganesha Chaturthi and Immersion process by bands performing with drums like dhol, tasha and lezim. You could also see women in nine yard sarees giving beats on a dhol!! Its a lovely sight to watch! Also read: Ganapati celebrations in Pune
- Various entertainment functions and performances by elders and youngsters in front of society Ganapati Bappa!
- Travel to visit various Ganesha idols
You might like: Travel during Ganesha Festival
New age traditions forming part of Ganesha festival celebrations
Along with these beautiful age old traditions, now you can add a few new age traditions to the celebrations and make it even more special for the years to come!
“Family traditions reveal what you value enough to repeat, and if done with love, build warm, happy, associations!”
So what do you say, we introduce some more new age traditions to the mix? Check them out –
1] Eco friendly Ganesha festival celebrations.
Many of us are adopting eco-friendly lifestyles, so why not adopt it while celebrating Ganesha festival. You can easily do it by changing these things –
- You can make Gauri and Ganapati idols from clay or buy from vendors who are adopting eco-friendly ways to make them. Check this website of Tree Ganesha, where you can turn the idol into a tree. So that after immersion of the idol, it does not really create waste but might be useful in your garden.
- You can reuse or recycle home made materials to create innovative decorations for the shrine of Lord Ganesha and Gauri
- The ‘Nirmalya’ or the waste after the puja can be used as compost in your own garden.
2] Puja and Arati
The hymns in puja and arati are almost more than 3000 years old from vedic era. You can spend more time understanding these hymns and teaching them to your kids. The first mention of Ganesha Puja is found in Rigveda and then subsequently in various vedas and Upanishadas. Apparently Yajurveda also means ‘Salutations to Ganas and Lord of Ganas (ref: Origin of worship).
We can try to understand our culture than just follow because everyone is doing it since long. It would be a different kind of learning experience for the family.
3] Performances for the family
You can have a family talent show after any lunch or dinner. Doesn’t matter you cannot go and perform in your society!! Plan an entertainment show for your family. Shoot videos, so that you can watch them later and revisit the fun memories. You can also post them on the social media so that the families and friends who are unable to visit can watch and enjoy them too.
4] Stories and books of Ganesha
Lord Ganesha is the most favorite God of kids. So the kids love talking about interesting mythological stories of Ganesha and read books related Ganapati Bappa. We have made a list of books you would like to read out to your kids this Ganesha festival.
Check out the blog here – 5 Books about Ganapati every child must read!
Read these books together and turn it into a family event! You can also add a Ganapati quiz session to the mix as we have listening to many of the stories since so many years.
Let the immersion happen in your backyard, so that we do not further contribute to the pollution of the rivers around us. Lord Ganesha would actually praise us for being sensible and using our resources smartly.
Can you think of any other tradition to add to this mix? Please drop in a comment, we would love to learn all about it!
This year staying home and staying safe is more important than any other traditions!
So let’s create this beautiful blend of old and new traditions and celebrate the true essence of this Ganesha festival at our home!!