By Ombretta Di Dio
September is a month rich with celebration in India. One among all is the Ganesh Chaturthi: this festival is dedicated to the Indian Elephant-Headed God, “Lord Ganesha,” who brings good fortune and removes obstacles from the lives of those that worship him.
This year the event will start on September 19th and will last 11 days. Although celebrated in different states of India, one of the most spectacular places to enjoy this festivity is the city of Mumbai, as an incredible number of people visit the Siddhivinayak temple during this holiday.
Huge and gorgeous statues of Ganesha are installed in private homes and decorated podiums before the celebration begins and, finally, on the last day ("Ananta Chaturdasi") the statues are brought around in a myriad of parades throughout the streets of the city, in a general partying atmosphere made of dancing and music, until they are eventually immersed in the ocean to signal the end of the holiday. A common Hindu belief is that everything constantly changes and what is a form now will soon be formless, so immersing the statues in the water symbolizes the passage from form to non-form.
During a ritual called Pranapratishhtha Puja, Lord Ganesha is invoked to make sure his presence fulfills every newly installed statue. Offerings, prayers, and special events take place every day during Ganesh Chaturthi. As the celebration happens in public environments, every community makes its best to install the most wonderful statues on display.
If you happen to be in India during Ganesh Chaturthi, you will be surrounded by music, happiness, and incredibly crowded streets.