Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Ganesha. It falls in the months of August or September of the Gregorian calendar. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals(temporary stages).
Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as, prayers and vrata (fasting). Offerings and prasadam from the daily prayers, that is distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka as it is believed to be a favorite of Lord Ganesh.
The festival ends on the tenth day after start, but we end it by one and a half day where the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea.
In Mumbai alone, around 150,000 statues are immersed annually. Thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva.
The festival celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India, especially in the states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, and is usually celebrated privately at home in states such as Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
Ganesh Chaturthi is also observed in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora elsewhere such as in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, other parts of the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, United States, and in Europe. At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic and martial arts competitions are also held.