New Delhi: One of the most beautiful celebrations in India is Ganesh Chaturthi, which is primarily observed in Maharashtra. Over time, Gujarat and many regions of South India have observed the holiday with the same fervour. Nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak, known as “The Father of Indian Unrest,” was responsible for transforming a private, domestic Ganesh Chaturthi celebration into a grand occasion.
How Ganeshotsav Started: A Glimpse Of The History Of The Celebrations
Ganesha, the elephant-headed God and younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, celebrates his birthday during the ten-day Hindu celebration. While some historians believe that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations date back to the Satavahana, Rashtrakuta, and Chalukya dynasties’ rule, which spanned from 271 BC to 1190 AD, historical evidence suggests that Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja started the celebrations as a way to promote culture and nationalism. It persisted under the Peshwas’ dominion, who revered Lord Ganesh as their personal deity.
People eventually started to celebrate it in private and on their own terms. After many centuries, Lokamnya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a man renowned as the “Father of Indian Unrest,” reimagined the festival as a representation of the nationalistic movement.
How Ganeshotsav Became A National Festival: The Contribution Of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Tilak observed that the status of Lord Ganesh as “the God for Everyone” was revered equally by members of upper and lower castes, leaders and common people. In order to “bridge the divide between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins,” he popularised Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival. In 1893, he established the first and oldest mandal—Keshavi Naik Chawl Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal at Girgaum.
The 10-day celebration was launched by Lokmanya Tilak, who was the first to place a sizable clay idol of Lord Ganesh in a public location. Participation and interest from the community gradually became apparent. On the tenth day of the festival, he then began the custom of submerging the Ganpati idols. He utilised the festival to unite the disparate Hindu population and fight the British government’s 1892 anti-public assembly legislation, which forbade Hindu meetings.
Additionally, this festival served as a gathering spot for regular people from various castes and tribes. It gradually took on a religious and social role. Nationalistic speeches and cultural programmes were included in the event. Even prominent Muslim figures spoke at these yearly events, urging their people to strive for independence.
The patriotic spirit was gradually extended throughout the nation as a result of the festive fervour.
But by 1905, it had spread across the country. These days, thousands of sarvajanik pandals are built with millions of rupees, and the festivities have developed into a grand annual event.