Maharashtra gears up for "Ganesh Chaturthi"

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Mumbai, Aug 16 (ANI): Maharashtra is gearing up to celebrate "Ganesh Chaturthi", the popular festival that celebrated the birth of Lord Ganesh.

The festival begins August 23 and would continue for ten days. At the end of the 10-day long festival, idols of Lord Ganesha are taken out in grand processions and immersed in water bodies.

Artisans have been busy giving final touches to idols.

Residents of the state are reportedly praying to rid them of the swine flu virus.

"I do not think that the virus is going to make much of a difference to the mood of the festival. We pray to the lord to ward off this problem faced by the country and by Maharashtra particularly," said Sanjay Shirke, the president of the Chinchpokhli Ganesh Utsav Mandal, an organisation that celebrates the festival.

During the festival, Ganesha idols are worshipped at hundreds of "pandals" or makeshift tents before they are immersed in water bodies.

Ganesh Chaturthi for years was a personal and private affair. But at the turn of the century, freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak started using it as a platform for political propaganda against British colonial rule.

The festival is hugely popular in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat.

Legend has it that Hindu Goddess Parvati created Ganesh from a perfumed putty-like substance, used to remove dirt from her body in an ancient self-cleansing ritual, the equivalent of a modern bath.

Suspecting her fidelity, Parvati's husband Lord Shiva, one of the three most powerful Gods in the Hindu pantheon, flew into rage and beheaded the young lad. This left Parvati in distress and rage.

When Lord Shiva realised that the boy was created by Parvati, he brought him back to life by slaying an elephant and giving him the animal's head. Thus was Ganesh created. He is regarded as "Vinayak", the God of Knowledge and the "Vigneshwara", the remover of obstacles. (ANI)

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