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INDIA Lord Ganesha’s


2016 Birthday Party Millions the world over joyously invoke the enduring grace of the Lord of Obstacles


T he elephant-faced lord has been worshiped from


antiquity. He is invoked by every Hindu at the beginning of every ceremony in every corner of India and the world over. Ganesha Chaturthi, His birthday party, is one of


the grand festivals of Hinduism, celebrated on the 4th day of the waxing moon. Nowhere is it more widely and elaborately celebrated than in India’s state of Maharashtra. No one knows for sure how long ago Ganesha has been worshiped on this day. According to one story (see Wikipedia), the famed Maratha King Shivaji instituted public celebration of Ganesha in Pune around 1650. Maratha Peshwars (state administrators) continued the practice. The first sarvajanik pandals (public shrines) for worship were started in 1892 and made popular by freedom fighter Lokmaya Tilak. “In 1893, Tilak praised the celebration of Sarvajanik Ganesha Utsav (festival) in his newspaper, Kesari, and the following year he installed a Ganesha idol in the Kesari office; his efforts transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organised public event.... generating nationalistic fervor in the Maharashtrian people to oppose British colonial rule.” Months of preparation precede Ganesha’s annual birthday on the 4th tithi in the month of Bhadrapada. Rites are continued for one to ten days with immersion of murtis in water on the last day. The 2016 festival was as big as ever. According to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, 50,250 murtis were immersed at the designated natural ocean fronts, rivers, lakes õ ^


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from public shrines, 40,302 from home shrines and 234 Gauri idols Z(


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or brick and mortar, received 22,000 immersions, thereby allaying the burden on natural waterways. The clay from dissolved Ganeshas is often spread on gardens.


After ten days of worship Ganesha returns home: (Clockwise) Sutar Lane Ganesha is taken into the ocean at Girgaum Chowpatty beach; a group of boys, faces smeared with sindur, take their Ganesha to the ocean; a young sister and brother lovingly immerse their Ganesha along with 40,000 other family home Ganeshas; small Ganesha being immersed in a small krutrim talav ( ñ


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