Ganesh Chaturthi marks the beginning of ten day celebrations across the country. Though the preparations for this festival begin a month prior to Ganesh Chaturthi, it is on this day that people welcome Ganesha into their homes.
Children need to understand the premise of the festivals if we are to celebrate them meaningfully. Not only it enlightens children about their culture and traditions but also helps them build religious tolerance. Something that is the core of our wonderful country.
Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi is annual festival that is celebrated all over the country, particularly in Southern and Western states. It is celebrated to mark the birthday of one of the favorite Indian Gods – Ganesha.
Ganesha is known by 108 names. Just as he is known by different names, the celebrations also differ across various states of the country.
The western state holds the grandest celebrations across the country. It is believed the festival dates back to Maratha King Shivaji’s reign.
Later Lokmanya Tilak, a eminent independence activist, evolved the festival to a public event to bridge the gap between Brahmins and non-Brahmin community and thus bringing unity across races and castes.
During this period of ten days, colorful pandals are set up all across the state to worship the deity. People engage in ten day long celebrations by bringing the idols to their homes and worshipping it. As Ganesha is known for his sweet tooth, ‘Modak’ a traditional Marathi sweet is offered to him.
The entire state in immersed in a cultural extravaganza during this period. Various folk dances, fairs, poetry and drama performances are held making the festival more joyful.
On the last day of the celebration, Ganesha idol is immersed in water amidst the chants of “Ganapati Bappa Moriya”.
The southern state of Kerala lauds the festival as ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ and celebrates is much like Maharashtra. The idols are bathed in milk and temples are decorated exquisitely. People crowd the temples to seek blessing of the Viganeshwara by offering coconut.
This state of Southwest India celebrates Ganesha Chaturthi as ‘Ganesh Habba’. The locals offer their prayers not only to Ganesha but also his mother ‘Gauri’. Colorful tents are set up, homes are cleaned and temples are decorated.
Women prepare decorated thalis, which they exchange amongst themselves to seek blessings of the Goddess, the epitome incarnation of Aadhi Shakthi Mahamaya, for a happy married life. The revelries end with Visarjan, that is the immersion of Ganesha idol in water.
Tamil Nadu celebrates this festival as ‘Pillayar Chaturthi’. It begins of the fourth day of Tamil month ‘Aavani’ and ends the following Sunday with immersion of Ganesha idol.
Just like everywhere else, here too Ganesha is offered traditional sweets to please him and seek his blessings.
This neighboring state of Maharashtra celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi with matching pomp and show. Not to be left behind, the locals observe the festivities for a period of seven to ten days.
Culturally rich state of Rajasthan celebrated this festival of Lord of Wisdom in it’s own unique way. Ganesha idols are place at the entrance of the house along with a puja ki thaali. Decorated with flower garlands, the idol is bather in Kumkum water.
People entering the home must pay their obeisance to Ganesha by applying Kumkum tilak on the idol’s forehead along with theirs.
The rest of India too engages in commemorations along with these states. Every state adds its touch to the festival, making it a cultural glue to bind the entire country in joyful, festive mood.
Understanding how different states celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi will help children build respect for all cultures and appreciate subtle differences. This inclusion and tolerance is what helps us stand strong and together.
Once your children have understood the unifying and binding spirit of the festival, involve them hands-on in these crafts:
Learn to draw Ganesha using basic shapes: This one offers a neat guide to draw Ganesha using basic shapes. Children as young as 4year olds can use this technique to draw their Ganesha.
Lentil Ganesha Craft: This is a great craft to strengthen motor skills of younger children. Draw any silhouette of Ganesha of a paper and ask your child to paste lentils on the outlines. Simple, isn’t it?
Origami Ganesha: These cute origami Ganeshas make the perfect present for friends and family.
Leaf Printed Ganesha: For your younger child who cannot handle origami or quilling, try this leaf printed Ganesha. It is breathtakingly beautiful and extremely simple.
Quilled Ganesha: For older children who love quilling, here is quilled Ganesha. Paste it on a card to make a personalized Ganesh Chaturthi card.
Floral Ganesha: Much like Lentil Ganesha, this craft uses flower petals to fill in thick Ganesha outlines. The result is not only fragrant but also delightful.
Ganesha’s Umbrella: Once you have decided which Ganesha to make with your children, make Ganesha’s beloved umbrella. It is simple craft that required little parental guidance.
Modak: Complete Ganesh Chaturthi crafts with this origami modak.
No activity with children is complete without stories. Besides nourishing their young minds, stories also help them to remember and retain. Hence, it is only apt that children should be read Ganesha stories during the celebrations.
The Mud Baby – The Birth of Ganesha:This is a lovely narration of Ganesha’s birth. According to mythology, Ganesha was shaped out of clay and bought alive my Goddess Parvati.
Ganesha: The Curse on the Moon: This story bring alive the legend surrounding the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth: A witty tale about how Ganesha’s sweet tooth lands him in trouble. This one is certain to make your children laugh.
Ganesha- The God of Prosperity: If you are looking for a collection of Ganesha stories for your children, then this is the one for you. Big text, attractive illustrations make it easy to read and comprehend.
Amma, Tell me about Ganesha: Beautiful illustrated, this book is quite a favourite amongst kids.