Happy Birthday Lord Ganesh!
Ganesh Jayanti (literally "Ganesha's birthday"), also known as Magha shukla chaturthi, Tilkund chaturthi,"Vinayak Chaturthi" and Varad chaturthi, is a Hindu festival. This occasion celebrates the birth day of Ganesha, the lord of wisdom.It is a popular festival particularly in the Indian state of Maharashtra held during the shukla paksha chaturthi day (fourth day of the bright fortnight or the waxing moon) in the month of Maagha as per almanac, which corresponds to the Gregorian calendar month of January/February. The distinction between the Ganesh Jayanti and the more popular, almost pan-Indian Ganesh Chaturthi festival is that the latter festival is observed in the month of August/September (Bhadrapada Hindu month). According to one tradition, Ganesh Chaturthi is also considered as the birthday of Ganesha.This festival of Ganesha is also called as the Tilo Chauth or Sakat Chauthis in Uttar Pradesh, where Ganesha is invoked on behalf of the son of a family.
Two to three months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated & depict Lord Ganesh in various poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 25 feet.
Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mandapas (pandals) in every locality. The pandals are erected by the people or a specific society or locality or group by collecting monetary contributions. The mandapas are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events.
The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then symbolically invokes life into the statue by chanting mantras. This ritual is the Pranapratishhtha. After this the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of Kumkum & Sandalwood paste . Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.