Only a couple of days to go until the most awaited festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and the entire state of Goa seems to have descended into a frenetic whirl.
Chaturthi or Chovoth (as it is commonly known in Goa) commemorates the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The beloved elephant-headed God is instantly recognisable by his generous belly, curved trunk and the sweet in his palm. Celebrations commence on the fourth day of the Bhadrapada month, corresponding to August or September in the Gregorian calendar.
This festival is always a place of unrestrained joy. Most people visit their ancestral homes to come together as a family and take part in the festivities. Celebrations go on for anywhere between two to 21 days. Local artisans spend months painstakingly adding intricate details to the ‘murti’ A priest then offers prayers and invokes ‘life’ into the clay idol before placing it under a matov. This colourful pandal covered in branches of mango, betel-nut, coconut, and bananas is enough to rival any gardener’s paradise. Traditional puja and aarti are performed twice a day and gifts in the form of betel nuts, coconut, mango leaves and varieties of seasonal fruits are offered up to the idol. The women observe a fast as a mark of sacrifice.
Music fills the air and festive beats from the ghumat, cymbals, and traditional drum lift the spirits. They sing hymns, chant mantras and conduct aartis every day. This is a way of showing the Lord Ganesha a respectful time during his visit to each home.
Food and Frolic
But the real star is the food. These delicacies are capable of making one’s mouth water. There’s the ‘pachpalyachi bhaji’ which is a mouthwatering amalgamation of five different leafy vegetables found in abundance during this period. Sweet dishes, particularly modak, known to be Ganesha’s favourite, laddoos and neuvryo are also a major part of the celebration.
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi holds a special significance in Mapusa, famous for its Temples at Ganeshpuri and Khandola. The temple town of Marcela in Ponda also witnesses a huge rush of visitors during Chaturthi season. The reason – the unique and creative Ganesha idols made by local artists.
On the last day, a parade ringing with the sound of drums and chants of ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya’ makes its way down the streets to the nearest water body. The celebration goes on late into the night with everyone dancing like they’ve forgotten how to stand still. The idol is then immersed into the water from where it is believed Ganesha returns back to his parents – Shiva and Parvati at Mount Kailasha.
As families spread far and wide on account of work, Ganesh Chaturthi becomes an important way to bring them back to their roots. It is a time to celebrate being alive, celebrate the wonders of creation and be one with the community. Since people from other communities also take the opportunity to get away together, SaffronStays offers vacation rental homes so that travelers can be a part of these festivities and spend some quality time with one another.
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SaffronStays wishes all its patrons a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!