Lord Ganesha is the first worshiped god among all the other gods. Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated as the Birthday of Lord Ganesha in various parts of India with little variations in steps of puja. It is celebrated in different names like Ganesh Habba in Karnataka, Vinayak Chaturthi in Tamil Nadu and Ganesh Chathurthi in Northern parts of India.
1. The first step in this puja is bringing the auspicious Ganpati idol which is available in various sizes and materials like metal, clay, plastic, plaster of paris to home. Usually sizes less than 1.5 meters are preferred according to scriptures. According to science and Hindu rituals, the trunk of the idol should be curved towards the left and the idol should be in seated posture.
2. Local delicacies which are considered Ganesh Ji’s special are Modaks or Modagam and Karinjis, which have the shape of a crescent moon. Modaks which are also called Kozhakattai in Tamil Nadu are jaggery and rice flour dumplings, are prepared freshly at home for offering to lord ganapati in banana leaf.
3. Lord Ganesha can be worshipped in sixteen rituals which is known as Shodashopachara Puja along with chanting Puranik Mantras.
4. Before the pooja begins, clean the house and welcome Ganesha with Rangoli. The puja starts with lighting the agarbathi/dhoop. Place the Banana leaf or paan and fill it with the delicacies prepared like fruits, coconut, etc.
5. Place the Ganapati idol and start doing abhishekams with coconut water, flowers, water, milk etc. After abhishekam is over, decorate the idol with Tulsi Leaves, Velleruku Malai, Arugampul Malai and other flowers. After Abhishekam, start doing pooja by chanting mantras.
6. After pooja is over, distribute the offerings to the children and neighbours.
After 10 days of celebration, the most important part of the festival called “Ganesha immersion” or “Ganesh Jala Nimajjan” is celebrated. On this day, the Ganesha idols are dissolved in natural water bodies in Northern India. But in Southern parts of India, on 3rd day or any other odd numbered day from the puja, the old or previous year Ganesha idols are either dissolved in water or left in temples. The main concept behind immersing the Ganesha idols is to preserve the natural water bodies by replacing the old clay with the new one in order to save the rain water. This tradition proves the closeness between the Hindu mythology and the environment.
Devotees who follow these steps to celebrate the Ganesh Chathurthi will be blessed with better health and wealth.