Ganesh Chaturthi (birthday of Ganesha):
Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganesh Chaturthalso, Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayagar) is the Hindu festival celebrated on the occasion of birthday of Lord Ganesha. This day Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods.
He is the son of Shiva and Parvati.Ganesha is the god of wisdom, good fortune and prosperity and is invoked before the beginning of any auspicious work by the Hindus. It is believed that for the fulfillment of one's desires, his blessing is absolutely necessary.
The festival, also known as Ganeshotsav ("festival of Ganesha") is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadra, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 15 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi.
A life-like clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi.
On the day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is called 'pranapratishhtha'. For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all man.
Ganesha is the god of wisdom and prosperity and is invoked before the beginning of any auspicious work by the Hindus. It is believed that for the fulfillment of one's desires, his blessing is absolutely necessary. According to the mythology, he is the son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Kartikeya - the general of the gods, Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and Saraswati-the goddess of learning. There are numerous stories in Hindu mythology, associated with the birth of this elephant-headed god, whose vehicle is the Mooshak or rat and who loves Modaks (droplet shaped Indian sweet).
Legend has it that Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood dough that she used for her bath and breathed life into him. Letting him stand guard at the door she went to have her bath. When her husband, Shiva returned, the child who had never seen him stopped him. Shiva severed the head of the child and entered his house. Parvati, learning that her son was dead, was distraught and asked Shiva to revive him. Shiva cut off the head of an elephant and fixed it on the body of Ganesha.