Ganesh Chaturthi: A festival to Unite Hinduism
It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Magh. Since then, an association between Ganesh and Chaturthi has been established.
There are two different stories about Ganesha’s birth. One has it that Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of dirt off her body while having a bath and set him to guard her door till she finishes her bath.
Shiva who has gone out, returned at that time, but as Ganesha didn’t know of him, stopped him from entering. An angry Shiva severed the head of Ganesha after a fight between the two. Parvati was angered and Shiva promised Ganesha will live again. The devas who went in search of a head facing north of a dead person could manage only the head of an elephant. Shiva fixed the elephant’s head on the child and brought him back to life.
The other legend has it that Ganesha was created by Shiva and Parvati on request of the Devas, to be a vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of rakshasas (demonic beings), and a vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the Devas.
From Shivaji to Bal Gangadhar Tilak: The history behind Ganesh Chaturthi
It is strange to find out when the festival started. It became a major social and public event with the sponsorship of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj after Mughal-Maratha wars. Historical records reveal that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler, to promote culture and nationalism. And it had continued ever since
It became popular again in the 19th century after a public appeal by Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, who championed it as a means to avoid the British government ban on Hindu gatherings through its anti-public assembly legislation in 1892.
British had imposed Marshall Law that banned public gathering because Indian were getting together to talk about Independence a lot lately, so Tilak under the act of Ganesh Festival encouraged the tradition as well and social gathering for Independence
Lokamanya Tilak saw how Lord Ganesha was worshipped by the upper caste and lower caste people . The visionary Tilak realized the cultural importance of Ganesha Chaturthi as a National Festival “to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”.
He knew that India couldn’t fight her rulers until she solved the differences within her own. Hence, to unite all social classes Tilak chose Ganesha as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule because of his wide appeal as “the god for Everyman”.
“स्वराज हमारा जन्मसिद्ध अधिकार है, और हम इसे लेकर रहेंगे”.