Mahak Singhal, a Motion Graphic Designer based in India at Blue Yonder, shares her celebrations and experiences about Ganesh Chaturthi, one of her most-awaited festivals of the year.

Each year Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Vinayak Chaturthi occurs on the fourth day of the Hindu month Bhadrapada, which falls in August or September according to the Gregorian calendar. It is celebrated with grandeur in many countries and various states of India, especially in Maharashtra, which is where my city Mumbai is located. Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. During this time Lord Ganesha, who is worshipped as the god of wisdom, is considered to visit us for 10 days and remove all the obstacles from our lives, blessing us with good fortune.

This year the festival goes from 19 – 28 September, with the last day known as Anant Chaturdashi. During our pre-festival preparations, we clean the premises of our building and beautifully decorate a small mandap (tent) with flowers and fragrances to install an idol of Lord Ganesha whom we also call Bappa or Ganpati Bappa in Maharashtra. A day prior, we go to our local artisan shop, where idols are reserved a year in advance, to purchase our eco-friendly Ganesha idol made of clay and natural colors chanting “Ganpati Bappa Morya” with music, dance, and enthusiasm.

The rituals start the next day where all of our neighbors come together to worship Bappa. We provide offerings of flowers, fruits, traditional food prepared at home, and Bappa’s favorite sweets – Modaks and Laddus – and perform morning and evening pujas (traditional ceremonies) with Ganesh Aarti. After the prayers and rituals, the offerings made to Lord Ganesha, known as prasadam, are distributed to everyone present in the puja.

Bappa’s favorite sweets – Modaks and Laddus

My family and I also visit many of our relatives, friends, and neighbors to seek blessings of Lord Ganesha at their homes and offer our prayers. It is spectacular to see Ganesha idols ranging in sizes from 1 foot to 60+ feet installed at temples and public places as we travel around the city during the festival. For me, the essence of this festival lies in the aura and energy that comes with his presence and the sweets that we get to relish as prasadam. It is a tradition that we look forward to every year, as it brings us closer to our loved ones and the air is filled with peace and joy.

It’s a pleasure to see the children in the neighborhood enjoying the vibrant atmosphere all day long as they have holidays from school to participate in the festivities. Some educational institutions organize cultural programs and art competitions related to the festival. As an artist, I too create artwork of Lord Ganesha especially during the festival. These are a few of my paintings and sketches below. 

On the last day, we take the idol in a grand procession through the streets and immerse in an artificial pond nearby, symbolizing the departure of Lord Ganesha to his abode from ours. It is a sight worth seeing as we bid farewell to Bappa with a heavy heart yet with great pomp, music, dance, beating of the dhol, loud cheers of “Ganpati Bappa Morya” and request him to visit us next year!

While Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival of devotion, unity and harmony among people instilling a renewed sense of zeal in everyone, for me it represents a spiritual feeling along with the traditional music devoted to Lord Ganesha and the beat of dhols on which I cannot resist dancing.