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Ganesh Chaturthi

'Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya' - O Ganapathi my Lord, come back soon next year. Year after year these verses are repeated with adoration and devotion by the multitudes worshiping Ganesha - the Elephant God.

Lord Ganesha is the Lord of wisdom and power, prosperity and good fortune, harmony and peace and education. Lord Ganesha is believed to remove obstacles that come along the path of his devotees. He is popular as Vigneshwar, the lord who removes vigna or obstacles. It is a Hindu custom to invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha before embarking on a new venture in life.

Lord Ganesha is the elephant faced God; elephant head representing the symbol OM (the sound symbol of cosmic reality), the pranava manthra or the first manthra. Ganesha Chathurthi marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha; he being born on the 4th day of the fortnight.

Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations

Ganesha Chathurthi is celebrated with much fervor in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh. It is celebrated during the month of Bhaadrapada; the festival celebrations begin on shukla chathurthi and end on Anant Chaturdashi. The festival is celebrated for 10 days. In Tamilnadu, the birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated on the 4th day of shuklapaksha (new moon to full moon) during the Tamil month of Aavani (August-September).

What began as private celebrations at home turned into a public celebration when Lokmanya Tilak popularized such gatherings to build unity and awareness about the freedom struggle among the masses. Cultural performances like dance dramas, musical concerts, poetry recitations, and debates were held during the festival. Since then, the tradition of community celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi continues in Maharashtra. Mumbai sees probably some of the largest and well attended celebration gatherings.

Birth of Lord Ganesha

Goddess Parvathi decided to create a bodyguard to guard the entrance of her place while she went for her bath. She created a young boy from the turmeric paste from her body and bestowed life into him. She set him on guard while she bathed. Lord Shiva who came in then was denied entry by the little boy. Enraged Shiva severed the little boy's head, this upset Goddess Parvathi. As an effort to console Parvathi, Shiva sent his gana to bring the head of a living being they encounter first facing north.

The first head they saw was of a baby elephant and thus Lord Ganesha got his elephant head. Lord Shiva fixed the head on the trunk of the boy and breathed in life. The little boy got his name Ganapathi. Lord Shiva adopted him as his elder son and made Ganesha the chief of his army. Lord Shiva declared that Ganesha needs to be worshipped first before embarking on any religious activities.

Ganesha has several names

Akhurath - One who has Mouse as His Charioteer
Alampata - Ever Eternal Lord
Amit - Incomparable Lord
Anantachidrupamayam - Infinite and Consciousness Personified
Avaneesh - Lord of the whole World
Avighna - Remover of Obstacles
Balaganapati - Beloved and Lovable Child
Bhalchandra - Moon-Crested Lord
Bheema - Huge and Gigantic
Bhupati - Lord of the Gods
Bhuvanpati - God of the Gods
Buddhinath - God of Wisdom
Buddhipriya - Knowledge Bestower
Buddhividhata - God of Knowledge
Chaturbhuj - One who has Four Arms
Devadeva - Lord of All Lords
Devantakanashakarin - Destroyer of Evils and Asuras
Devavrata - One who accepts all Penances
Devendrashika - Protector of All Gods
Dharmik - One who gives Charity
Dhoomravarna - Smoke-Hued Lord
Durja - Invincible Lord
Dvaimatura - One who has two Mothers
Ekaakshara - He of the Single Syllable
Ekadanta - Single-Tusked Lord
Ekadrishta - Single-Tusked Lord
Eshanputra - Lord Shiva's Son
Gadadhara - One who has The Mace as His Weapon
Gajakarna - One who has Eyes like an Elephant
Gajanana - Elephant-Faced Lord
Gajananeti - Elephant-Faced Lord
Gajavakra - Trunk of The Elephant
Gajavaktra - One who has Mouth like an Elephant
Ganadhakshya - Lord of All Ganas
Ganadhyakshina - Leader of All The Celestial Bodies
Ganapati - Lord of All Ganas
Gaurisuta - The Son of Gauri (Parvati)
Gunina - One who is The Master of All Virtues
Haridra - One who is Golden Colored
Heramba - Mother's Beloved Son
Kapila - Yellowish-Brown Colored
Kaveesha - Master of Poets
Kriti - Lord of Music
Kripalu - Merciful Lord
Krishapingaksha - Yellowish-Brown Eyed
Kshamakaram - Place of Forgiveness
Kshipra - One who is easy to Appease
Lambakarna - Large-Eared Lord
Lambodara - The Huge Bellied Lord
Mahabala - Enormously Strong Lord
Mahaganapati - Omnipotent and Supreme Lord
Maheshwaram - Lord of The Universe
Mangalamurti - All Auspicious Lord
Manomay - Winner of Hearts
Mrityuanjaya - Conqueror of Death
Mundakarama - Abode of Happiness
Muktidaya - Bestower of Eternal Bliss
Musikvahana - One who has Mouse as Charioteer
Nadapratithishta - One who appreciates and Loves Music
Namasthetu - Vanquisher of All Evils and Vices and Sins
Nandana - Lord Shiva's Son
Nideeshwaram - Giver of Wealth and Treasures
Omkara - One who has the Form of OM
Pitambara - One who has Yellow-Colored Body
Pramoda - Lord of All Abodes
Prathameshwara - First Among All
Purush - The Omnipotent Personality
Rakta - One who has Red-Colored Body
Rudrapriya - Beloved of Lord Shiva
Sarvadevatman - Acceptor of All Celestial offerings
Sarvasiddhanta - Bestower of Skills and Wisdom
Sarvatman - Protector of The Universe
Hambhavi - The Son of Parvati
Shashivarnam - One who has a Moon like Complexion
Shoorpakarna - Large-Eared Lord
Shuban - All Auspicious Lord
Shubhagunakanan - One who is The Master of All Virtues
Shweta - One who is as Pure as the White Color
Siddhidhata - Bestower of Success and Accomplishments
Siddhipriya - Bestower of Wishes and Boons
Siddhivinayaka - Bestower of Success
Skandapurvaja - Elder Brother of Skanda (Lord Kartikeya)
Sumukha - Auspicious Face
Sureshwaram - Lord of All Lords
Swaroop - Lover of Beauty
Tarun - Ageless
Uddanda - Nemesis of Evils and Vices
Umaputra - The Son of Goddess Uma (Parvati)
Vakratunda - Curved Trunk Lord
Varaganapati - Bestower of Boons
Varaprada - Granter of Wishes and Boons
Varadavinayaka - Bestower of Success
Veeraganapati - Heroic Lord
Vidyavaridhi - God of Wisdom
Vighnahara - Remover of Obstacles
Vignaharta - Demolisher of Obstacles
Vighnaraja - Lord of All Hindrances
Vighnarajendra - Lord of All Obstacles
Vighnavinashanaya - Destroyer of All Obstacles and Impediments
Vigneshwara - Lord of All Obstacles
Vikat - Huge and Gigantic
Vinayaka - Lord of All
Vishwamukha - Master of The Universe
Vishwaraja - King of the World
Yagnakaya - Acceptor of All Sacred and Sacrificial Offerings
Yashaskaram - Bestower of Fame and Fortune
Yashvasin - Beloved and Ever Popular Lord
Yogadhipa--The Lord of Meditation

Significance of Ganesha statue

The elephant headed God has a unique structure that is rich with meaning:

Elephant head: Great strength representing 'tat'.

Human form: Symbol of wisdom and intelligence representing 'tvam'.

Combination of the elephant and human form: Highest reality or Brahman

Mouse, his vehicle: Presence of mind, his humbleness to ride on a small creature

Snake on waist: Energy in all forms

Four arms: Direction of space

Broken tusk: Sacrifice, he sacrifices his tusk to write 'The Mahabharata'.

Fan like ears: Listening to devotees always

Celebrating Ganesha chathurthi gently reminds us of the fact that though we worship the Lord in his manifested form, yet there is a formless divine. The idol that is venerated is the manifested form and post immersion the devotion we carry is the divine feeling.

Ganesh puja and celebrations

  • Ganesha chathurthi is celebrated by bringing home the clay image/of Lord Ganesha.
  • Auspicious music is played while taking the idol home; the idol is welcomed by performing arthi at the entrance of the house.
  • A mantap is made at home and is well-decorated with flowers, lights, garlands, etc.
  • Lord Ganesha is placed in the mandap and puja is performed.
  • Ganesh puja celebrations can be held for 1, 3, 7 or 10 days.
  • Prasad like modak, sundal, etc is offered
  • Puja is done everyday in the morning and evening until the idol is at home.
  • Puja is performed as per the traditions of the family
  • Depending on the number of days of puja, the visarjan is done. This involves immersing the idol in the sea, river or lake.
  • Women folk belonging to Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh celebrate Gowri puja. They pay their respects to the mother of Lord Ganesha. This puja is celebrated the previous day of Ganesha Chathurthi.

Eco-friendly Ganaesh Chaturthi celebrations

Ganesh idols are immersed in water bodies and the seas to symbolize the eternal cycle of creation and destruction. Plaster of Paris idols were used for years as it offered a strong and cheap medium. But over the years, environmental pollution has been on the rise and the need is being felt to incorporate eco-friendly materials for the Ganesh idols. Usage of chemical paints is also frowned upon. Instead, idols can be made with clay, paper mache or locally found materials. Use paints that are lead and arsenic free.

Traditionally used in Bengal, Shola pith or Indian cork is another material that is used to craft eco-friendly Ganesh idols. Its luster, malleability and texture lend easily to elaborate idols.

The Prasad

Modak is a sweet dumpling made with rice flour; the stuffing is made from coconut and jaggery. It is said to be a favorite with the Elephant God. Different regions have their own specialties to offer as naivedyam to Lord Ganesha.

Modak recipe

Outer covering
Rice flour 1 1/2 cup
Water 2 1/2 cups
Oil 1 tsp
Salt to taste


Coconut scraping 2 1/2 cup (freshly grated coconut)
Jaggery 2 - 2 1/2 cups (depends on how sweet you like it)
Cardamom powder 1 tsp

  • Heat a thick bottom pan, transfer jaggery and coconut to the pan
  • Cook until jaggery melts completely, the coconut and jaggery is well mixed and cook until the mixture gets a little dry
  • Add cardamom powder
  • Allow it to cool, the filling is ready
  • In a pan, add water, oil and salt
  • Allow the water to boil
  • On a low flame, add the rice flour and mix well until it becomes a thick solid mass
  • Add a little oil and use this as it is warm to make the outer covering
  • Oil your palms and take a small portion of the dough and make a smooth ball
  • Flatten it on your palm
  • Keep a small ball of the coconut jaggery mixture in this flat dough
  • Bring together all the edges and close it on top
  • Remove the extra dough from the top
  • Steam the modaks for 7-10 minutes on low flame
  • Offer to Lord Ganesha and enjoy the modaks

Karanji Recipe

1 cup Wheat Flour
3 tbsp Ghee
1 pinch Salt
1/2 litre Oil (for frying)
1 cup Grated Coconut
3 1/4cups Sugar
1 1/2 cups Milk
Few Almonds
Few Raisins
1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder
1 tbsp Poppy seeds

For the outer covering, mix salt, flour and ghee. Gradually add water and knead to form firm dough. Cover with wet cloth and set aside. For the stuffing, take sugar, milk and coconut in a pan and cook on gentle heat. Add cardamom powder and chopped cashews and raisins.

Divide the dough into about 20 balls, so that you can roll them out like small chapattis. Place a spoonful of stuffing in the center and fold each in half. You can use a mould too to get attractive shapes. Deep fry the karanjis for about 2 minutes in hot oil till golden brown.

Motichoor Laddu Recipe

2 1/2cups gram flour
500 ml milk
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
3 cups ghee

For Syrup:
2 1/2 cups Sugar
3 1/2 cups Water
2 tbsp. Milk
3 cups Ghee

Boil sugar and water. When the mixture is ready, add milk and boil for a few minutes as the dirt will form on the top. Strain this and continue to boil till it is sticky. Add cardamom powder and food color.

For Boondi: Mix flour and milk to a smooth batter. Heat ghee in a heavy frying pan. Gently pour a bit of batter over the strainer held over the hot ghee. This will form small boondis in the ghee. Fry and remove gently. Repeat with all the batter.

Immerse boondi in syrup; ensuring that the boondis are not swimming in excess syrup. Spread this mix on a large plate and sprinkle a little hot water over it. Keep it covered for about 10 minutes. Shape the mixture into laddus.

Rawa Ladoo Recipe

100 gm rava
10 g Ghee
1/2 cup Sugar, powdered
1 pinch Cardamom
Cashew nut pieces and raisins, roasted in a bit of ghee
Heat 2 tsp of ghee and roast rava over a low flame till fragrant. Grind rava to a coarse powder. Mix with the powdered sugar and cardamom powder. Add the cashews and raisins. /Heat the remaining ghee. Add in small measures to the mix and make small balls. This is a bit tricky as the mixture is hot to the touch because of adding ghee.

Ganesh Chaturthi
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