Ganesha Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated on the sukla paksha chaturthi, the fourth day from the new moon, in the bhAdrapada month. This year it falls on September 10th, except in the American Midwest and West, where it is on September 9th.
The story of why we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi is told in the skAnda Purana, in the chapter called shyamantakOpakhyAnam.
Brahma Deva, wanting all of his creation to be blessed with prosperity, ardently prayed and performed puja to Sri Ganesha, the pranavAkAra. Pleased by Brahma Deva's devotion, Sri Ganesha appeared before him and granted him his wish. Brahma Deva lovingly offered Sri Ganesha modhaka (a sweet dish) which He gladly accepted.
As Ganesha was returning from Brahma Deva's abode, he caught the attention of Chandra. Known for both his resplendent beauty and immense vanity, Chandra looked down upon those he considered to be less attractive than him. Ganesha, with his elephant face and potbelly, carrying a modhaka, certainly stuck him as a comical figure and he broke out in derisive laughter.
Hearing his mockery, Ganesha, the Lord Supreme, was annoyed by Chandra's hubris. How egoistic and prideful did he have to be to judge someone by their physical appearance? Ganesha cursed Chandra that the very face which people gazed upon with such wonder and awe would, instead, only bring ill will and slander upon those who looked at it! Upon hearing this terrible pronouncement, Chandra hid his face in shame and disappeared from sight.
The devas were deeply disturbed by Chandra's actions and how his disappearance had disrupted the natural rhythm of the universe. They approached him and advised that he should seek Sri Ganesha's forgiveness. By then deeply remorseful, Chandra performed the Ganesha Puja with heartfelt devotion and begged for forgiveness.
Pleased with Chandra's sincere repentance, Sri Ganesha appeared before him in the form of bAla gaNapati and forgave him. Ganesha agreed to lift the curse that afflicted Chandra on all days except the chaturthi, the fourth day the from the new or full moon, as a reminder of his mistake. However, those who perform Ganesha puja do not need to fear any ill effects of the curse. When asked how and when to perform puja, Ganesha explained the importance of two types of Ganesha puja: the sankashta haraNa Chaturthi or shankatahara Chaturthi, which was to be performed every month on the krishnapaksha (waning) chaturthi, and the second, Vinakya Chaturthi.
Vinayaka Chaturthi is to be celebrated every year on the shukla (waxing) chaturthi in the month of bhAdrapada. Devotees make a clay figure of Ganesha (mritthika gaNesha) and perform this puja to it. All who do this Vinayaka Chaturthi puja will be blessed with success and completion in all his tasks. This Chaturthi day, let us sing praises of Sri Ganesha and request His blessings for success and the removal of all obstacles in our path.
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In our day to day lives, we express our bhakti (devotion) by reciting slokas in praise of Bhagavan. Slokas explain to us the philosophy of dharma. We believe that the power of reciting any sloka is enhanced when one understands the meaning of the verse in the correct context. In this series, we bring you well researched meaning of the verses to start your journey towards the goal of understanding the slokas.