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A person visiting Mumbai in the month of September can easily notice a mild fragrance lingering in the air. The fragrance is none other than that of the hibiscus flower. The hibiscus flower, commonly known as the shoo flower is believed to be the favourite flower of Lord Ganesha. In the month of September, every Mumbaikar is deeply immersed in Ganeshotsav. Some start preparing for the next Ganeshotsav as soon as the current one ends.
Before the festival of Ganeshotsav, or Ganesh Chaturthi, became an Indian cultural phenomenon, one can trace it's origins to Maharashtra. Ganesh Chaturthi as a festival has been historically observed in the province of Pune. Pune (also known as Poona) is dubbed the educational hub of Maharashtra. Historians see Pune as the last bastion of the Marathi manoos.
Ever since the era wherein Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire, ruled over most of western India, Lord Ganesh was seen as the family god or Kuldevata. With the unfortunate demise of the Maratha empire in the early 19th century, the festival lost its state patronage and became a private family celebration in Maharashtra. It regained its limelight when the extremist Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak reignited its long distinguished flame.
Crowds throng in at a junction to catch a glimpse of the Ganesha idol before its immersion. Photo by Vishal Panchal on Usplash.
Ganesh Chaturthi in its current form was introduced in 1892 when a Pune resident named Krishnajipant Khasgiwale visited Maratha-ruled Gwalior, where he witnessed the traditional public celebration and brought it to the attention of his friends, Bhausaheb Laxman Javale and Balasaheb Natu back home in Pune. Javale, who was also known as Bhau Rangari installed the first sarvajanik or public Ganesha idol following this.
Lokmanya Tilak praised Javale's efforts in an article in his fiery newspaper Kesari in 1893 and even installed a Ganesha idol in the news publication's office the next year, and his efforts transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organised public event. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and established the practice of submerging the idols in rivers, the sea or other bodies of water on the tenth day of the festival.
Encouraged by him, Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganeshotsav, became a meeting ground for people from all castes and communities at a time when the British discouraged social and political gatherings to control the population. The festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the forms of intellectual discourse, poetry recitals, plays, concerts, and folk dances.
Various Ganpati idols for sale at a workshop in Mumbai. Photo by Mohnish Landge on Unsplash.
Tilak recognized Ganesha's appeal as "the god for everybody". He popularised Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival to "bridge the gap between Brahmins and the non-brahmins and also to find a context on which to build a new grassroots unity between them. The festival was successful in generating nationalistic fervour in the Maharashtrian people to oppose the oppressive British rule.
With the advent of the third wave of Covid-19 in Maharashtra, government officials have started ringing alarm bells. The fear that the ongoing surge in new cases might be fuelled by the lesser-known Delta Plus variant is high among healthcare staff. Ganesh Chaturthi and the Third Wave of the pandemic are in sync, leading to a catch 22 situation for Mumbaikars.
Keywords: Ganesh Chaturthi, Maharashtra, Third Wave, Marathas. September
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, who is known as Lord Shiva's and Goddess Parvati's son. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha represents new beginnings and removes all obstacles.
Every year Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with full zeal and zest. The festival will take place from September 10 till September 21.
It must be noted that this festival is celebrated majorly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Devotees of these states celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with full enthusiasm, and they even start preparing for this festival from months ago.
Generally, the festival begins with Pran Pratishtha of Lord Ganesha's idol. This is a ritual in Hinduism, wherein an idol is placed in the temple. Then, for the next 10 days, devotees of Lord Ganesha worship him and pray for prosperity. Devotees, at the same time, also offer Modak, which is a kind of sweet, to Lord Ganesha. On the last day of the festival, the idol of Lord Ganesha is immersed in a waterbody like a pond or a river, which is known as Ganpati Visarjan, with much glitz. This ritual marks the return of Lord Ganesha to his holy abode.
According to the Hindu mythology, it is believed that worshipping Lord Ganesha helps end all troubles and hurdles. This is the reason why he is also known as Vinayaka and Vighneshwara, both the terms mean “remover of obstacles".
Keywords: Ganesh Chaturthi, India, Hinduism, Festivals, Temples
By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
The one thing the pandemic has been unable to disrupt is your sweet tooth. Many of us have thrown caution to the wind, with no gyms and lockdown as a great excuse to indulge. With the festive season just around the corner, celebrations and sweets are very much on the top of your mind.
In India, sweets are positively entrenched in our culture as happy celebration foods. It started with Ganesh Chaturthi, followed by Onam and the list goes on.
But you can build our immunity and maintain a fit lifestyle if you limit your calories and consume wisely. Due to the limitation of outdoor activities, the body’s metabolism has gradually slowed down and and hence one must make a conscious effort to maintain our calorie consumption during this season.
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Overindulgence in sweets can lead to a lot of health drawbacks. Excessive sugar calories can push one back on their diet/fitness regimen by adding empty calories, in the current situation maintaining one’s general fitness is of utmost priority. At the same time, one cannot forego sweets entirely as festive celebrations would be dull without them.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and Nutritionist Ishi Khosla suggest four ways to smartly consume your sweets this festival season.
Practice healthy and homemade cooking:
With everyone mastering their cooking skills during the lockdown period, it is advisable to cook your sweets at home rather than purchasing. This is will not only help you monitor the ingredients and its quantities that go into it, but will also enable a sense of satisfaction of it being self-made.
It’s always better to take small helpings of your favourite meals and treats rather than depriving yourself of it. Monitor your portions and don’t overeat. Compensate when you can if you have had two helpings of laddoo’s for lunch, give it a skip during dinner.
Don’t forget to exercise:
Remove a small amount of time during the day to burn the excess-calorie intake. It does not have to be a heavy session. Even light exercise is a must and should not be skipped! Even a thirty minute workout can go a long way!
Sugar and calories goes hand in hand. Therefore, resorting to sugar alternatives like low calorie sweeteners is a smart way to celebrate this festival. Low calorie sweeteners provide sweetness with minimal calories and you don’t have to compromise on your craving! In addition to it, low calorie sweeteners are absolutely safe to consume as well.
Renowned Chef Sanjeev Kapoor suggested, “Since I have a sweet tooth, the festive period is extremely exciting owing to the treats and sweets that are prepared. One just cannot imagine celebrating a festival in India without our traditional sweets! However, I personally choose to opt for a low calorie sweetener like Sugar Free Green instead of using Sugar in many of my sweet/dessert recipes. It gives the same sweet taste, with none of the sugar calories, so my family and I don’t have to worry about any excessive calorie consumption or weight gain in our festivities”
Nutritionist Ishi Khosla also added, “With our movement being curtailed, our appetite falls but cravings increase. It is important to monitor your daily sugar intake especially during festival season. Modak’s and ladoo’s are very inviting, so make sure to invite the right kind of calories too. Switch sugar to low calorie sweeteners and celebrate through a healthier way”
Lastly, don’t hold back on the celebrations, especially with your family and loved ones. The boost of love and warmth is definitely needed during trying times like these. (IANS)
Actress Soha Ali Khan is opting for healthy food alternatives during the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, to fully enjoy the festival.
The first thing she is doing is replacing sugar with jaggery.
“As everyone knows, sugar is the refined product of sugarcane whereas jaggery is a more natural and less processed sweetener. As a child, my mom was particular to instill a sense of consciousness in my brother and me, and seeing her I have imbibed some of the same qualities,” she said.
She added: “I am very conscious about what my family and I eat, and its health quotient. Hence, during festivals, one thing that I do is replace sugar with jaggery for all sweets that are prepared at home, and even as the sweetener we use for drinks consumed at home. Adding jaggery to the diet may help boost the body’s metabolism and gradually helps burn fat, which is an added benefit. Besides this, I also prefer jaggery over white sugar as it helps cleanse the body by flushing out toxins.”
Soha feels it is easy to get carried away, during festivals.
“The best way to avoid that is by making sure your spread includes healthy foods like almonds, which are a great snack to munch on any time of the day and they have health benefits across weight and diabetes management, heart and skin health. And with all the festivities abuzz, it’s important to also keep energy levels up,” she said.
Also Read: Ganesh Utsav: Keep Your Diabetes in Check
The actress also suggests alternatives like exotic fruits.
“Another good way of avoiding sweets during the festivities is by replacing conventional sweet dishes with fresh fruit or berries like mulberries. I personally make sure I keep a plate of mulberries, as the dessert course because they are a healthier choice. Consuming berries or fruits after a meal will satiate your sugar craving without adding many unwanted calories,” said the mother of one. (IANS)