Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

Lord Ganesh is a non-sectarian Hindu deity, considered the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, and the divine body of intellect and wisdom. The Ganesh Chaturthi Festival is dedicated to Lord Ganesh and draws people from all parts of the country to the celebration. The festival begins on the fourth day of the waxing moon period, usually falling between August 19th and September 20th. The festival is celebrated for 10 days, until the fourteenth day of the waxing moon (Anant Chaturdashi).

This year, in 2018, the Festival begins on the 13th of September and closes on Anant Chaturdashi, September 23rd. The celebration kicks off with colorful Ganesh installments, lavishly decorated, displayed, and adored. Chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesh and begins the 16 ways of tribute, or shhodashopachara. Offerings such as coconut, jaggery (cane sugar), modaks (a sweet dessert dumpling), blades of grass, and red flowers are ceremoniously brought to the festival, while hymns and music and dance performances are part of the fervor. On the last day, the Ganesh statues are immersed in the ocean as a symbol of what Ganesh represents.

The last day, and the subsequent submersion of the statues, is called Anant Chaturdasi. Anant means infinite or eternal energy or immortality, and chaturdasi means 14. This is the 14th day of the Bhadrapada month on the Hindu calendar, which corresponds to August/September, and also marks the celebration of Lord Ananta, incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The significance of this date as the last day of the Ganesh festival heralds the Hindu belief in constant change in the world, the concept of immersion as a reminder that what is here today in one form or another will be here tomorrow without form.

The Ganesh festival is for everyone, from all corners of the world, to honor the beauty of change and eternal energy. We are always changing, in a world of constant change. We accept change and submerse our own version of the Ganesh statues with the intention to bring about what will come tomorrow in its new form. We practice this in our yoga, in our meditations, and in our everyday lives with our hearts open to the possibilities that will appear without form.

Joni McCarran