Ganesh Chaturthi is an important festival in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated in spectacular fashion in India. It is particularly popular in the state of Maharashtra and other areas in the west of the country.
The 10-day festival revolves around the popular elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha, who is celebrated and worshipped. Many visitors come to Maharashtra each year to join in the parades and marvel at the giant statues being immersed in water.
International travelers are more than welcome to join in the festivities in Mumbai and other towns and cities. Visiting the region is made all the easier with the India eVisa.
Why Is Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrated?
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birth or descent to earth of the Hindu deity Ganesha.
Easily recognizable with his elephant head, Ganesha is the god of prosperity and wisdom. Hindus believe that he brings good fortune and removes obstacles.
The festival became popular as an opportunity for India’s Hindu community to unite and share ideas at a time in history when public gatherings were banned by the British Raj. It continues to be an occasion to come together and celebrate with friends, family, and neighbors.
How is Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in India?
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated across the state of Maharashtra and in various other places in India. Mumbai hosts a particularly large festival centered around the Siddhivinayak temple, dedicated to Ganesha.
During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, prayers and offerings of food, flowers, and coins are offered to Lord Ganesha at his shrines and temples.
What Happens on Ganesh Chaturthi?
Clay statues of the Hindu god are specially crafted and decorated before the festival begins, sometimes taking months of work. They are installed around towns and cities and in homes during Ganesh Chaturthi.
On the final day, known as Anant Chaturdashi, the Ganesha statues are carried through the streets in parades of singing and dancing and then placed into water, either in rivers or in the sea, and immersed. The clay then dissolves, symbolizing Ganesha’s return to Mount Kailash in the Hindu tradition.
Visitors to India can expect crowded streets, music, dancing, and an electric atmosphere of celebration if they visit during Ganesh Chaturthi.
In Which Hindu Month Is Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrated?
Ganesh Chaturthi occurs during the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, on the 4th day after the new moon.
On the Gregorian calendar, this usually falls in late August or early September (or both, since the festival lasts for 10 days).
In 2020, Ganesh Chaturthi starts on August 22, while Anant Chaturdashi — the final day and largest event, which sees the immersion of the largest idols in bodies of water — is on September 1.
In the coming years, the important dates will be as follows:
- In 2021, the festival will begin on September 10, with Anant Chaturdashi falling on September 19.
- In 2022, Ganesh Chaturthi will commence on August 31 and come to a close on September 9.
International visitors planning to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in India should ensure they have the correct authorization to enter the country in good time before the festival. Online visas are the quickest option and are usually processed with 4 days of submitting the India eVisa application.
How to Visit India for Ganesh Chaturthi
Foreign nationals who wish to visit India during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival must have a valid passport and Indian visa to enter the country and celebrate the occasion.
India has an electronic visa (eVisa) available via an online application, which saves a lot of time and effort compared to applying at an embassy for a traditional visa. Check the India eVisa requirements to find out which nationalities are eligible to obtain one.
There are different types of eVisa available, depending on the purpose of the visit. Most international travelers attending the Ganesh Chaturthi will need an Indian tourist visa.
However, if the visit is part of a business trip, the option to choose would be an India business visa.
Where to Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in India
Once the correct visa is obtained, the traveler must choose the part of India they wish to visit during Ganesh Chaturthi and book their flights and accommodation.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in many locations across India, but the biggest celebrations occur in Mumbai. The city even sets up special viewing platforms for foreign visitors, complete with facilities such as wifi.
Who Started the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India?
Exactly when Ganesh Chaturthi originally started is unknown, although there are several theories. It became a major public event in the 17th century under the rule of Shivaji I in the aftermath of the Mughal-Maratha wars, at a time when Hindu traditions were promoted.
It regained popularity in the 19th century, particularly in the city of Pune. The person responsible for restarting Ganesh Chaturthi here is debated, with names such as Sardar Krishnaji Khasgiwale, and freedom fighters Bhausaheb Rangari and Lokmanya Tilak often being cited.
It was certainly championed by all of these figures and was used as a way to unite the people against British colonial rule. The festival’s popularity has endured to the present day.