This is a ten-day festival, dedicated to Ganesha. Celebrated from the fourth to
the fourteenth day in the bright fortnight of Bhadrapad, it is especially important
in Maharashtra and is one of the cultural highlights of the state.
The festival begins on the fourth day of Bhadrapad, which is celebrated as Ganesha
Chaturthi in the rest of India. This day is very important to all Hindus, who
believe that by praying to the remover of obstructions, people hope to dispel
all obstacles from their lives. Some people believe that this was the day Ganesha
The most popular belief how ever, is based on a story in Skanda Purana. Once Ganesha
was invited for a feast in Chandralok. The god, known for his ravenous appetite,
stuffed himself with ladoos. When he got up to walk after the meal, he could not
balance because of his huge stomach and stumbled. As he fell, his stomach burst
and all the ladoos came rolling out. The moon could not resist and began laughing.
Enraged, Ganesha cursed the moon, causing him to vanish from the universe. However
because of the moon's absence, the whole world began to wane. So the gods asked
Shiva to persuade Ganesha to relent. The repentant moon also apologized for his
misbehavior. On Shiva's intervention, Ganesha modified his curse. He announced
that the moon would be invisible on only one day of a month, and would be partially
seen for the Ganesha Utsav most part.
It would however, be visible in its full glory only once a month as well. Since
the incident occurred on the fourth day of Bhadrapad, he also added that anyone
who looked at the moon on
the fourth day of any month, especially of Bhadrapad, would be falsely accused
of some wrongdoing.
The day is also called Dagadi Chautha, or 'stone-throwing fourth day', in some
places, stemming from the belief that if one inadvertently sees the moon on that
night, one should throw stones on his neighbor’s roof to avert any calamity arising
from the curse. In Maharashtra, the great festival of Ganesha begins on this day,
with his idol being ceremonially installed. The next ten days, before the beginning
of the inauspicious dark half of the month, are spent in praying to the god. These
days are considered especially auspicious due to Ganesha's presence in the idol.
Vighneshvar, the remover of obstacles, reciprocates by using his powers all through
Before the ten-day rite begins, the house and devotees must acquire a superlative
state of purity. Cleaning or whitewashing the house or at least the place where
the idol is to be placed accomplishes this. Worshippers bathe and the priest wears
a silken lower garment, usually red, with a shawl around his shoulders. The puja
begins at the time designated according to calculations based on the ritual calendar.
The ceremony begins by placing the image, usually made of terracotta, in a sacred
arena, symbolic of a throne. The worshipper then sips holy water and performs
pranayama; he then bows and prostrates before Ganesha and all the other gods.
The Sankalpa Mantra follows this.