Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated on the occasion of birthday of Lord Ganesha. The followers of Hindu religion worship Ganesha as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is believed to be auspicious to invoke Ganesh at the beginning of any new venture.
The festival is celebrated in the month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi and lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi.
Even though Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated over most parts of India, the grandeur and scale is much bigger in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. It is also celebrated by Hindus living in other countries such as the United States, Mauritius, Canada, Singapore, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Fiji.
In recent years, the scale of Ganesh Chaturthi celebration has gone up. Preparations begin months before the main festival. Ganesh idols of various sizes are made of plaster of Paris or clay by skilled artisans. These are beautifully decorated and show Ganesh in vasious poses.
Ganesh statues are installed in homes and mandapas/pandals in every different localities. These pandals are erected by a specific locality or group. Many Pandals have become so popular that thousands of devotees make it a point to visit them during Ganesh Chaturthi celebration. Lal Baugcha Raja is one such Ganesh Pandal.
On the 11th day of the festival, the Ganesh statue is taken through the streets in a procession (with devotees dancing, singing), to be immersed in a river or the sea. The immersion of idol symbolises Ganesh's journey towards his abode while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. This ritual is called Ganesh Visarjan. In homes also, people carry the idols to the river for immersion after the offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor.
Like any other popular festivals, people exchange gifts on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi as well. Ganesh Chaturthi gifts usually comprise of Ganesha idols, modak, dry fruits, puja thali and other religious decoratives.