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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 16 - Celebration for the God Ganesh
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 16, Celebration for the God Ganesh. In Hindi, it’s called Ganesh Chaturthi.
One of the most important Hindu deities, Lord Ganesh, is often invoked during prayers, and a special week-long festival in August, which sometimes extends into September, is held to mark the occasion of his birthday. Do you know about this day?
In this lesson, we are talking about Ganesh Chaturthi, which is celebrated with great fervor, especially around Maharashtra.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What special sweets are associated with Ganesh Chaturthi?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
A few weeks prior to this festival, earthen idols of the Lord Ganesh throng the market place. Small idols are placed in home altars, or Mandir, while large ones are specially made and used to decorate pandals. Lord Ganesh is depicted as having the body of a human and the head of a white elephant. He is worshipped as the god of wisdom, knowledge and success. Ganesh Chaturthi marks the day of his birth.
Lord Ganesh has many virtues. He is known as the lord of the people, and as the remover of obstacles. During the time of worship, his virtues are recited as invocation of various mantras. People who come to pray and get a glimpse of the idol are marked with special blood-red sandalwood paste on their foreheads. The rituals are held in massive pandal tents, where priests continuously recite sacred mantras.
On the final day of this festival, the idols are immersed in a river, in Hindi Naddi, or at sea, or Samunder. The day holds special value in the state of Maharashtra. Giant idols are constructed and thousands of people gather in pandals. Artists regale the audiences with their performances. The enthusiasm, especially during the immersion, is extraordinary. Devotees shout "Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya varshee lavkar yaa" all along the route, which means “O Lord Ganesh, Come back soon next year”.
Mumbai sees a special fervor during Ganesh Chaturthi as well, with crowds becoming unmanageably large at times. At Lal bagh ka Raja in central Mumbai, as many as 1.5 to 2 million people gather over just ten days; each day the total number of visitors surpasses five hundred thousand!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What special sweets are associated with Ganesh Chaturthi?
The special sweets prepared during this festival are called modak; these are sweet balls made with jaggery and coconut, deep-fried and then steamed. These are made and consumed as they are said to be Lord Ganesh's favorite.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any festivals marking the birthday of a deity in your culture as well?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com, and we’ll see you in the next lesson!

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Do you have any festivals marking the birthday of a deity in your culture as well?