Ganesh Chathurthi is a lively seven- to ten-day long festival to worship the elephant-headed Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom and success. As the remover of obstacles, he is also called Vighnesa or Vighneswara. It starts on the fourth day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in the months of August or September of the Gregorian calendar. For 2018, the festival begins on September 13 (dates may vary by region). The festival is especially colorful in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, and is the bestknown event in Bombay.
Everyone pays homage to huge clay images of Ganesh made by highly respected artists, and he is also propitiated with street performances, competitions, processions, and yoga demonstrations. In Bombay, at the end of the week of celebration, as sacred songs are chanted, an image is taken to the sea and immersed to ensure prosperity for both land and water.
It is said that Ganesh, the son of the gods Shiva and Parvati, so annoyed his father one day that Shiva cut off his head. But Shiva then repented, and replaced his head with that of an elephant. Today people ask for Ganesh’s help in undertaking new projects.
The story behind the festival in Nepal is that the day, called Ganesh Chata, celebrates a bitter dispute between Ganesh and the moon goddess. Therefore, the Nepalese try to stay inside on this night and close out the moonlight.
Source: Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, 5th Ed., published by Omnigraphics