Birthday of Lord Ganesh
Lord Ganesh is the most respected God in Maharashtra, so as the Ganesh Chaturthi, most important festival. The festival falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August - September). People buy Ganesh images to keep in their houses as a divine guest for five to ten days. The image is then taken out ceremoniously and immerse to the river, sea or well. It is called Visarjan. Keeping the idol after this day is considered inauspicious.
Puja can be simply performed with family members within the household or by a priest. Modak is special cuisine for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Aarti is performed morning and evening (dusk, or at the hour when artificial lamps are lighted in the house) a long as the Ganesh idol is at home.
Huge Ganesh idols are worshipped at nicely decorated pandals, also
known as Dekhavas for 8 to 10 days. These Dekhavas are organized by the Mandals, worked collectively for the entire locality. Various Mandals shouting the slogans of Ganpati Bapa Morya take out huge processions during the first day and the day of immersion of the idols throughout the city. People from the city and nearby towns, districts throng to witness the Ganesh festival celebrations. Huge money in terms of crores is spent on decorations of the pandals.
Legend behind the origin of Ganesh
In Shiv purana it is said that Ganesh was the creation of Goddess
Parvati, who breathed life into an image made of clay. She placed the image outside the door while she was bathing and ordered him not to allow anyone to enter. Then her husband Lord Shiva arrived and was refused admission by the doorkeeper. Shiva became furious and severed the head of the idol. Parvathi was very upset over the incident as she considered the idol as her son (manas putra). To make amends Shiva ordered his servant to go and bring the head of the first living being he would meet. The servant saw an elephant, and he at once cut his head and took it to Shiva. Shiva joined the elephant's head to the body of Parvati's son. Thus Ganapathi came in to being.
Ganapathi's mount is a mouse and he has a snake tied around his belly. His origin has a philosophical aspect to it. The whole cosmos is compared to the belly of God. Shakti Parvati is the primordial energy. The seven worlds above, seven worlds (lokas) below and the seven oceans are inside the cosmic belly of Ganesha, held together by the cosmic energy kundalini symbolized as the huge snake which Ganesha ties around him. The mouse is nothing but our ego. Ganesha, using the mouse as a vehicle, exemplifies the need to control our ego. One who has controlled the ego is believed to have Ganesha consciousness or God-consciousness