Mumbai: The ten-day long Ganesh festival kicked off with zeal and fervour across Maharashtra Thursday.
The festival began with devotees, mostly attired in traditional clothes, bringing colourfully-crafted idols of the elephant-headed God in their homes and pandals and installing them amid chants of 'Ganapati bappa moraya', beating of drums and and sprinkling of 'gulal' (red coloured powder).
Several beautifully decked up pandals have been erected in all major cities and towns in the state, including Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur, where huge idols of Lord Ganesha have been placed on raised platforms for people to worship.
These makeshift tents also serve as a venue for promoting social causes such as free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for poor during the festival days.
Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis extended greetings to the people of the state on the festive occasion.
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi, is celebrated across the country as birthday of Lord Ganesha which comes to an end after 10 days when people come out in large numbers for immersing the idols in the sea or in different water bodies.
The festival sees devotees offering to the deity various sweets as prasad, of which 'modak' (sweet rice flour dumplings filled with coconut and jaggery) is an integral part.
According to the Hindu mythology, modak is believed to be Lord Ganesha's favourite sweet. As per the rituals, 21 modaks are offered to the God and eventually served to devotees.
President, PM greets nation on Ganesh Chaturthi
President Ram Nath Kovind and prime minister Narendra Modi on Thursday greeted the country on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.
"Ganpati Bappa Morya! greetings and good wishes to my fellow citizens on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. May Lord Ganesh guide us all towards a path of progress, peace, happiness and prosperity," the President tweeted.
Modi also took to Twitter and said: "Greetings on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi."
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in TN
Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated across Tamil Nadu on Thursday with people offering prayers to idols of the elephant-headed Hindu god.
People also thronged Vijayaka/Ganesha temples where special prayers were conducted.
The aroma of 'kozhakattai', a rice flour and jaggery dumpling, wafted through many of the kitchen windows. After offering prayers on the occasion, neighbours and friends got together to share the sweet treat.
Roadside vendors did brisk business even on Thursday morning, selling Vinayaka idols, flowers and holy arugam grass.
Public celebrations were also held in most parts of the state capital with huge Ganesh idols placed inside decorative marquees.
Bollywood celebs wish on Ganesh Chaturthi
On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi Thursday, Bollywood celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Anushka Sharma, Varun Dhawan and Sunny Deol sent online greetings to their friends, family and fans, wishing that the good lord blesses them all.
Celebrities like Anushka, Varun and Vishal Dadlani also urged to celebrate an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi.
Here's what they tweeted:
Amitabh Bachchan: Ganapati Bappa Moreya!
Madhuri Dixit Nene: Modaks, family gatherings, dance, music... Everything about Ganesh Chaturthi makes me happy. I wish this festive season brings you all countless blessings! Ganpati Bappa Morya
Anushka Sharma: Celebrating this auspicious occasion with a beautiful eco-friendly Bappa made with Dhaaga. Ganesh Chaturthi.
Varun Dhawan: Ganpati Bappa Morya. Let's celebrate an eco-friendly Ganapati this year. Team 'Sui Dhaaga' made a bio degradable Ganapati.
Sunny Deol: May lord Ganesha bless us all. Ganpati Bappa Morya
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari: Truly blessed and guided in all happy and sad shades of life. Handmade by dearest eight-year-old daughter... Ganpati Bappa Morya.
Farhan Akhtar: Wish you all peace and prosperity on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.
Abhishek Kapoor: May the elephant god lead all of us to wisdom, gratitude and prosperity Ganesha Chaturthi. Ganpati Bappa.
Esha Deol: Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.
Pooja Batra: Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all. May all be blessed.
Ashoke Pandit: Happy Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganpati Bappa Morya. May lord Ganesha bless us all with health, wealth and peace.
Vishal Dadlani: India, don't immerse Ganpati in the ocean or natural water-bodies. Can't bear to see half-dissolved idols all over again. Treat Ganesha and Nature with the respect they deserve. Use natural, soluble idols and immerse at home/in tanks built for this. Please. Don't let this happen again.
(With inputs from IANS)