Gowri Pooja and Ganesh Chaturthi has always been celebrated with fervor and rituals in our family. Lot of planning, roaming, shopping, cooking and inviting-visiting happens during this festival. Most people often celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi but not the Gowri Pooja. At our place Gowri is worshiped first and then Lord Ganesha is worshiped. Some people also say that Ganesha should not be brought/worshiped until his mom Gowri is worshiped on this occasion.
The festivities begin with shopping. From bringing home the idols to buying new clothes, all of it is so much fun. 🙂 As long as I can remember we have shopped for the idols from the crowded market place of Malleshwaram. The markets are jam packed on the days before the festival, so going earlier helps. The whole place is filled with the fragrance of flowers. 🙂 Along with the idol comes home the different varieties of flowers, fruits and leaves of different types used for the pooja. The prices of these reach an unbelievable high just before the festival.
The day of the festival begins with the courtyard being washed with water and adorned with huge rangolis. 🙂 The main door of the house is decorated with fresh mango leaves. This is called the toraNa.
During the olden days the poojaris or the priests were called home to perform the pooja with all the rituals. But now, we have moved on to modern times, with all the mantra and sholkas being recorded on to a casette/cd and the pooja is performed by playing the same. 🙂
Obattu the popular dish in Karnataka, also known as Puran Poli in Maharasthra is the main dish which is kept as offering to goddess Gowri on the day of the pooja. Ganesha on the other hand is offered kadabu/modaka, chakkuli. These tasty dishes once offered to God are devoured the people in the house on the completion of the pooja. 😀
As children it was so much more fun when we used to celebrate the festival as a huge family. A single idol was brought home and all the uncles, aunts, cousins used to get together and perform the pooja. 🙂 As years passed by everyone shifted to independent houses of their own making the celebration separate, smaller and lesser fun. 😦 The positive side is that now we spend the day visiting each others house and having a darshana (glimpse) of their idol. 🙂
I have heard from my parents and grandparents that during older times, when people lived nearer to their own communities, almost people in every house used to celebrate the festival. During those days children used to go out in the evenings and visit the house of random people asking “Uncle Ganesha iTTiddira?” which means “Uncle have you kept a Ganesha idol?” and view the idol of Ganesha. It was said to be auspicious to view 108, or at the least 21 Ganesha idols on the day of the festival. 🙂 Though we miss out on such things nowadays, we are more secular and live with different communities and get to see celebrations of Eid/Ganesh Chaturthi at the same time. 🙂
Also another herculean task on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi is to stop yourself from looking at moon. 😦 Oh! The number of times I have failed at this. 😦 The story goes that, once Lord Ganesha had eaten a lot and his stomach burst due to this. He picked up a serpent and tied it to his stomach (this is the reason that there is always a serpent painted on the stomach of every Ganesha idol). The moon who was watching this, laughed loudly, enraging the lord. The moon was then cursed to be never seen again. On asking for forgiveness from the lord, the effect of the curse was reduced. The full moon was now to be seen only once a month and his power would decrease and he would disappear every fifteen days. He would regain his power gradually in the next fifteen days until the full moon day.
Viewing the moon on the day of the festival is said to be inauspicious. Anybody who happens to do so has to listen to the Shamanthaka Mani story which is also a part of the Ganesh pooja, in order to be prevented from being cursed. The moon on that day however appears so clear and keeps peeping out even if it’s cloudy. 🙂
Done with the pooja, Lord Ganesha and Gowri reside in the house for odd number of days like 5 or 7, but mostly 11. On the completion of these days the idols are immersed in water with prayers to bring prosperity and return next year. The idols taken for immersion are sometimes taken with a huge scale procession. 🙂 It is wonderful to watch and the organizers bring the procession through every street with music, crackers and drums. 🙂
Added are pictures of the small celebration at my house. 🙂 Hope you too had a great time during the festival. 🙂