Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by Hindus all over India, as the birthday of the god of wisdom, knowledge and prosperity, Lord Ganesha. The celebrations continue from five to ten days, depending upon family traditions. It is believed that praying to Lord Ganesha leads to fulfilment of wishes and desires. His blessing removes all the obstacles from life. Although it is not known when this festival was first celebrated, but it is alleged to have been celebrated in Pune initially. Celebrations were started during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji to promote nationalism and give a feeling of unity. Ganapati is the son of Shiva and Parvati; various fables are attached to his birth. This elephant-headed god with Mooshak (rat) as his vehicle was created by Goddess Parvati from the sandalwood dough. It was she who infused life in Ganesha and asked him to guard at the door while she was in her bath. When Lord Shiva returned and was stopped by this unknown child Ganesha, Shiva in rage cut off the head of that child. As soon as Parvati got to know about the severing of head of her son, she asked Shiva to bring him to life again. Shiva then implanted the head of an elephant on Ganesha’s body. This re-birth of Ganesha is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’.
History Ganesh Chaturthi is said to have been celebrated since the days of Maratha rulers: Satavahana, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta. Mainly celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh with a lot of zeal and splendour, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular festival of Maharashtra. Ganesh Chaturthi was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji as a public event to promote traditions and nationalism, this festival was even celebrated by Peshwas to worship Ganapati as their family deity. The festivities remained a family affair until the festival was revitalised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the late 19th Century, to take the message of freedom struggle to all Indians. This festival brought in a feeling of unity and togetherness in Indians that helped in revival of their patriotic spirit. Through the medium of this festival he brought together all the classes of societies against British by getting rid of the caste differences. He stressed on it that Ganesh Chaturthi was a festival for everyone irrespective of the caste or class, and so he organised cultural events like dance dramas, musical nights, and religious gatherings on this festival. That was the time when social and political gatherings weren’t allowed by the British. Festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi that continued for ten days gave people of every religion the scope to interact and know each other. It is from that time this festival has been celebrated every year with great fervour all over the country.
Gurpurbs are part and parcel of Sikhism. In history we see that the Sikhs have to sacrifice even their lives in order to celebrate the Gurpurbs. Whether it is DEWALI (Bandi Chhor Diwas), VAISAKHI (Khalsa Sajna Diwas), or Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Sahib (Sahidi Diwas), Sikhs gather and remember their Gurus & pay homage to the great Martyrs. All the Gurpurbs are celebrated with great fervor & enthusiasm by the Sikhs throughout the world. We are giving the account of the main & widely celebrated Gurpurbs.
The birth-day celebrations & Gurpurbs of Guru Sahibs usually last for three days. Generally before the birthday-date Akhand Path is held in the Gurdwara. A large procession (Nagarkirtan) is organised one day before the birthday. This is led by the Panj Piyaras (Five beloved ones) and the Palki (Palanquin) of Shri Guru Granth Sahib and followed by groups of kirtani Jatha, Various School bands and students, emenent Citizans, Gatka Parties (displaying mock-battle with the traditional weapons), and devotees singing hymns from Guru Granth Sahib in chorus. The passage of the nagarkirtan is decorated with flags, flowers, religious posters decorated gates and banners depicting various aspects of Sikhism. On the Gurpurab day, the Divan begins early in morning at about 4 or 5 a.m. with the singing of Asa-di-var and hymns from Guru Granth Sahib. Sometimes it is followed by katha (discourse), religious and Sikh Historical lectures and recitation of poems in praise of the Guru. Kirtan-Darbars and Amrit Sanchar ceremonies are also held in the Gurdwara hall. After Ardas and distribution of Karah Parshad (sweet pudding) the Langar (food) is served to one and all and there is kirtan till late in the night, the distribution of langar continues to the end of the programme.
BIRTHDAY OF GURU NANAK SAHIB Guru Nanak Sahib (the First Nanak, the founder of Sikhism) was born on 15th April, 1469 at Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present distrect of Shekhupura (Pakistan), now Nanakana Sahib. The Birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib falls on Kartik Puranmashi i.e. full moon day of the month Kartik. On this day the Birthday is celebrated every year. The Shrine (Gurdwara) repsesenting the home of Baba Kalu (Father) and Mata Tripta (Mother) is called Gurdwara Janam Asthan, situated at Rai-Bhoi-di-Talwandi in the present district of Shekhupura (now Nanakana Sahib in Pakistan). The Sikhs from all over the world gather here and celebrate the Gurupurab every year with great devotion and enthusiasm.