Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival that is celebrated with an unparalleled fervour across India. However, the enthusiasm seen for this festival in the state of Maharashtra is truly amazing.
The celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi begin in the month of Bhadrapada on Chaturthi which is the 4 date of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of Moon), and end on the 14th date of the Shukla Paksha ,known as Anant Chaturdashi.
But what is the story behind Ganesh Chaturthi?
Well, it is a very interesting one.
Lord Shiva who is a part of the Supreme Trinity (the other two are Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu) was once away from His abode- Kailash and at the same time His wife Goddess Parvati was about to take a bath in a caved enclosure, but there was no one to guard the door.
So, she took some sandal paste off Her arms and created a small idol of a human figure and instilled life into that idol.
Immediately a young boy appeared. She told him that he is Her son and asked him to go and guard the door and not let anyone enter, no matter who.
The beautiful and innocent child obeying his mother's command, stood at the door as a guard.
Right at that time Lord Shiva arrived at Kailash and came straight to that cave. Since Lord Shiva did not know who that boy was, he was quite surprised by the fact that a little boy was standing as a guard.
But when Lord Shiva tried to enter that cave, the boy stopped Him. Angered by the boy's behaviour Lord Shiva warned him and asked him to step aside, but the boy refused.
Lord Shiva called his attendants- The 'Ganas' and asked them to deal with the boy.
But the boy being Goddess Parvati's son, defeated all the Ganas in a fierce battle that followed.
This infuriated Lord Shiva and He severed the head of the boy with His trident.
Hearing all that ruckus, Goddess Parvati came out and seeing Her son's dead body, She became extremely angry and took the form of Goddess Kali- that is the fiercest form of Her.
She demanded that Her son should be immediately brought back to life or else She would end the entire creation.
Watching the Goddess taking on Her fiercest form, all the other Gods pleaded to Lord Shiva to do something and save everyone from destruction.
Lord Shiva asked his Ganas to go and find a mother sleeping while having her back towards her boy and bring the head of such a boy and He told the Ganas to hurry as the head transplantation needed to be performed as quickly as possible so that remaining body must be retained.
The Ganas went searching but could not find a mother sleeping with her back towards her boy and time was running out.
Suddenly they found one mother elephant sleeping with her back towards the baby elephant and they brought the head of that baby elephant.
Since time was running out, so Lord Shiva decided to go with the elephant head and infused life in Goddess Parvati's boy, by making him a boy that has an elephant's head.
The Goddess refused to calm down as She complained that now the entire world would laugh on Her son for having an animal's head, so Lord Shiva along with all other Gods & Goddesses declared that the boy will be called Ganapati or Ganesh which means the administrator/master of the Ganas and before any auspicious ceremony/ritual, it will be mandatory to worship Ganesh before any other God or Goddess.
Lord Shiva and other Gods & Goddesses also gave multiple boons to Ganesh, such as of possessing great intelligence and being the destroyer of all obstacles.
Then Goddess Parvati calmed down and returned from Her form of Kali.
It was from then, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha who is also an ardent devotee of his parents (Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati).
It is for this great quality of destroying all obstacles, devotees worship Lord Ganesha and call Him Vighnaharta (One who dispels all obstacles).
It is said that one who worships Lord Ganesha with a pure heart, is blessed with intelligence, prosperity and a life free of hurdles or obstacles.