The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Chavath is celebrated in Goa with enthusiasm and devotion every year. Besides Goa this festival is also celebrated in Maharashtra and some parts of India. This year the celebration begins on 17th September and will come to an end in on the day of Anant Chaturthi in 11 days. The celebration pattern of each family differs which starts with minimum one and a half days and followed by five days, 7 days, 9 days and 11 days.
Festival of Ganesha is famously known as Ganesha Chaturthi or Cahvath is celebrated to mark the rebirth of the lord Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati. It is widely celebrated all over Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh and Goa. Outside India, it is celebrated in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana where Indians have settled down for long time.
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as the time of the reunion of the families in India. Members of dispersed families come together on this occasion. Although the origination of this festival celebration is not known but according to the available information the festival was first celebrated in the Shivaji era 1630 as a public event in Pune, Maharashtra and later with the help of the iron man of India, Lokmanya Tilak in 1830 it was transformed into the annual domestic festival of large well organized public event, the purpose of this was to bridge the gap between Bramhins and non-bramhins and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”, and generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule.
Steeped in tradition and rich with fervor, in most places, the particular type of worship has been passed down for generations, peppered often by the period when the state was ruled by the Portuguese. Take for example the worship was followed in some places of Ponda for instance. Instead of a clay idol, devotees worshiped the picture of Ganapati drawn on plain paper. This practice evolved during the Portuguese regime when Goan Hindus were restricted from worshipping any idol. Instead, the devout would close their doors and windows and worship the picture in a concealed manner.
It is believed that Lord Ganesha bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. It is the day when Ganesha was born. Ganesha is widely worshiped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. The very special aspect of this festival is the reunion of the family members wherever they may be, precede towards their ancestral houses in the villages. All the members of the family join in the various preparations like, cleaning the house using fresh cow dung, arranging the Makar, its decoration, collecting the natural items for the Matoli, (Matoli is the arrangement of fruits and crop hanging above the head of Ganesha Idol) as well as in the cuisine preparing auspicious sweets like Nevryo. They come and work together, worship together, eat together and enjoy decorations of the Matoli, fireworks, singing Aarti, making music on the Ghumat – shamell, Fugdi dance and so on. Incidentally, the sweet dish Nevryo is even important at Christmas for the Christian fold of the society.
The most serious impact of the festival on the environment is due to the immersion of idols made of Plaster of Paris into lakes, rivers and the sea. Traditionally, the idol was sculpted out of mud taken from nearby one’s home. After the festival, it was returned to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body. This cycle was meant to represent the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature. However, as the production of Ganesh idols on a commercial basis grew, the earthen or natural clay was replaced by Plaster of Paris. Plaster is a man-made material, easier to mould, lighter and less expensive than clay. However, plaster is non-biodegradable, and insoluble in water. Moreover, the chemical paints used to adorn these plaster idols themselves contain heavy metals like mercury and cadmium, causing water pollution. Also, on immersion, non-biodegradable accessories that originally adorned the idol accumulate in the layers of sand on the beach.
In Goa, the sale of Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris (PoP) is banned by the State Government. People are urged to buy traditional clay idols made by artisans. Recently there have been new initiatives sponsored by some state governments to produce clay Ganesha idols. Some artisan also makes use of other biodegradable materials such as papier-mâché to create Ganesh idols, the most famous place to witness the eco friendly Ganesha is Marcella in Goa.
Almost every Goan village has at least one artisan, who is an expert in making clay idols of Lord Ganesh. They begins their work well in advance by bringing a special kind of clay and then making it suitable to produce the idols, which are made manually using moulds and finally painting them with attractive colours. Even during earlier time’s only natural colours where used, chemical colours were avoided. For each family, the size, even colour of the body of the idol was usually determined by tradition. The idol was draped in costumes according to different mythological legends. Of late, however, one finds some variations in the traditional costumes of the Lord Ganesh reflecting the current trends. Whatever the form of the idol, a small clay mouse, the vehicle of Lord Ganesh, is always seen near the idol.
Another aspect which bothers the general public who do not participate into the festival celebration is the excessive use of fire crackers which not only creates the sound pollution but also pollutes the air with poisonous gasses. It is recommended and appealed to the people celebrating the Ganesha festival this year to reduce the use of fire crackers to reduce the unnecessary pollution to the environment. Let this Ganesha bring the joy and happiness to everyone. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all our readers, may god bless you.