Ganesh Chaturthi Festival Procedure | Story | Pooja Decoration

Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated on August 22, 2020. Ganesha Chathurthi is also known as Vinayaka Chathurthi, a Hindu festival observed throughout India which is the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom. It is also known as Magha Shukla Chathurthi, Tilkund Chathurthi, and Varad Chathurthi.

Places where Ganesha Chathurthi is celebrated:

Ganesha Chathurthi is primarily celebrated at home and in public by community groups in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, West Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Kerala, and TamilNadu.

Tracing back the period as to when the festival was started to be celebrated as a public festival:

The celebration of the festival as a public festival was first started by the Maratha Emperor Shivaji, who started to celebrate Ganesha Chathurthi in order to spread the spirit of nationalism.

Later Lokamanya Tilak, the great freedom fighter of India, in his newspaper Kesari, published the importance of celebrating Ganesha Chathurthi and organized as a public event as well as an annual domestic national festival. This year 2020, Ganesha Chathurthi is celebrated on 22nd August.

Celebration of the festival as a public event:

Ganeshotsav is observed as a ten-day festival celebration which begins on Chathurthi (fourth day) of the month August - September and concludes on Anantha Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

The celebration begins by placing the clay idol of Lord Ganesha in offices and in public places, Pandals (temporary tents) are raised where a large number of devotees gather to worship Lord Ganesha with great enthusiasm by offering flowers, Modakam, Laddus and sing songs in praise of Lord Ganesha.

Lord Ganesha is worshipped as the Lord of Good Luck, fortune, prosperity, and wisdom. He is the Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles and hence known as Vignesha and grants victory in accomplishing any new venture.

Lord Ganesha has many names and Pillaiyar is a popular name in Tamil, which means a noble child. On Anantha Chaturdashi, the idol procession of Ganesha is taken out through the streets with great pomp and splendor by devotees who sing, dance, and offer flowers, coconuts, and camphor and finally immerses the idol into the sea or nearby rivers.

Procedure for celebrating the festival at home:

For any pooja, we start with Vigneshawara pooja.  Even on Ganesh Chaturthi, we have to perform Vigneshwara pooja first before proceeding to perform Maha Ganapathy pooja, as the very name Vigneshwara means the Lord who removes obstacles.  It is also important to mention the star, the month, the day, and the thithi while performing the pooja.  We have to start the pooja before Raghu Kalam as it is important to start the pooja in an auspicious time.

Take a brass plate and make a cone-shaped Pillaiyar (Vigneshwara) with turmeric powder mixing a few drops of water, With the Akshatha and flowers start the pooja. Keep the Chandan and Kumkum on the cone-shaped Pillaiyar.

We seek Vigneshwara’s blessings to perform successfully the Maha Ganapathy pooja. Offer four betel leaves, two betel nuts with two bananas for Neivedhyam. Light the camphor and show it to Vigneshwara, ringing the bell.

Keeping the Akshatha and the flowers inside the right-hand palm, move in the clockwise direction over the burning camphor and offer the flowers and the Akshatha to Vigneshwara. Move the plate with the cone-shaped Vigneshwara towards the north.

Now start the main pooja for Maha Ganapathy.

As per Vedic rituals we have to invoke life into the clay idol, which process is known as “Pranapratishtha”. After this, the “Shhodashopachara” (16 ways of paying tribute) follows.

Maha Ganapathy Sathanamavali is recited.


Now the Neivedhya items Moong dal payasam, Sweet Kozhakattai, Urudh Dal Kozhakattai, Chickpea Sundal, Vadai, Avis with four betel leaves, with two betel nuts, two bananas and other fruits with cracked coconut are offered.


1. Sweet Kozhakattai( Modakam) is said to be Lord Ganesha’s favorite.

2. Ghee and few Tulsi leaves are sprinkled on the offerings.

3. Keeping the water in your right-hand palm sprinkle water three times in the clockwise direction around the Neivedhya items (offerings).

4. Ringing the bell, show camphor (by lighting it on a plate).

5. Keeping the Akshatha and flowers in your right-hand palm move in the clockwise direction over the burning camphor.

6. Do the namaskarams and seek the blessings of Maha Ganapathy for prosperity, health, and happiness forever. 

7. Take Aarathi for Maha Ganapathy and slightly spill it over the kolam in the front yard of the house. 

8. The next day we have to do Punar pooja and have to offer Payasam and a pair of betel leaves with two betel nuts with two bananas as neivedhyam. Show camphor and do the namaskarams.

Things required for the pooja  at home:

1. On the day of Ganesha Chathurthi, Ezhai kolam with Kavi (red paint) is drawn in the threshold of the house and in the pooja room.

2. Mango leaf festoons for tying at the entrance.

3. Lamps and incense sticks are required to be lighted in the pooja room.

4. A clay model of Lord Ganesha. A wooden plank or a mandapam to place the idol.

5. A small umbrella for Lord Ganesha.

6.Flower garlands, flowers like Roses, Jasmine, Lotus, Bilva leaves, Guava leaves, few Tulsi Leaves.

7.Chandan paste, Kumkum, Camphor.

8. Bell.

9. A brass plate for making a cone-shaped Pillaiyar.

11. Turmeric powder.

12. Consecrated rice (Akshatha – Uncooked Rice mixed with turmeric powder adding few drops of water).

13. Poonal/Janoi/Yagnopaveetham (Sacred thread to adorn Ganesha’s shoulder).

14. Sacred Couch Grass (Arugampul) occupies a prominent place in the list of herbs offered to Ganesha.

15. All red-colored flowers including Hibiscus are dear to Lord Ganesha and saffron yellow Marigold flowers are believed to please Ganesha.

16. White bell-shaped flower Thumbai (Botanical name Leucas Aspera).

17. Two sets each containing four betel leaves, two betel nuts, and one cracked coconut, two bananas for Neivedhyam.

18. Fruits either four or six apples, oranges, pomegranates, guavas.

19. Aarthi plate.

20. A bowl or brass basin to pour water.

21. Honey.

22. Milk (which is not boiled).

23. Panju Vasthram (cotton Garland).

24. Neivedhya items - Chick pea Sundal, Ulundhu Vadai, Ulundhu Kozhukottai (Stuffing prepared with Urad Dal with green chilies), Sweet Kozhukattai (stuffing prepared with grated coconut and pounded jaggery with cardamom powder), Appam, Idli, Moong dal Payasam, Avis (rice with toor dal and ghee).

25. Coins one rupee coin to be placed on the belly button of Lord Ganesha. (Note: The outer cover or the dough for Kozhakattai is prepared with rice flour which is important for any Kozhakattai variety).

What is Visarjan and the reason behind it:

The clay idol of Lord Ganesha is immersed in water and this procedure is called Visarjan. It is believed that Lord Ganesha returns to Mount Kailash to join His parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. It is believed that when the idol of Ganesha is taken out for immersion it also takes away with it the various obstacles which are destroyed along with the immersion. A similar procedure for immersion is followed for the idols worshipped at home also.

The Story behind the birth of Lord Ganesha:

Once Goddess Parvathi was preparing for her bath. As Nandi (Lord Shiva's bull) was not at Kailasha to guard at the door, She wanted someone to guard at the door till She finished Her bath. Goddess Parvathi took the turmeric paste from Her body and created a boy and gave life to Her creation.

She instructed the boy that he should not let anyone in until She finishes Her bath. Lord Shiva after finishing His meditation wanted to see Goddess Parvathi. Lord Shiva was surprised to see a small boy guarding at the entrance and stopping Him from entering inside His own house. 

Lord Shiva told that He is the husband of Goddess Parvathi. But the boy was determined not to allow Lord Shiva and told that it is His Mother Parvathi's order.  Lord Shiva feeling that this was no ordinary boy and decided to fight with the boy.

In His divine fury, Lord Shiva severed the boy's head with His Trishul.  When Goddess Parvathi came to know about this incident, She was filled with anger and felt insulted and decided to destroy the entire creation.

Brahma pleaded to Goddess to change Her drastic plan. Goddess Parvathi laid two conditions, one to bring back the head of the boy, two, to worship him as the foremost God. Lord Shiva admitted His mistake and agreed to Parvathi's conditions.

Lord Shiva told Brahma to go and get the head of any creature he crosses, lying with its head facing north. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant. Lord Shiva fixed the head of the elephant to the boy's body and thus the boy's life was restored by Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva declared the boy to be His own son and announced that He will be worshipped as the foremost among all Gods and the leader of Ganas (head of all classes of beings ranging from insects, animals, humans including subtle and celestial kinds). All Gods blessed Ganesha with power and prosperity.

Version 1:

On one occasion the used bathwater of Goddess Parvathi was thrown in the river Ganges. Goddess Malini,( the elephant-headed Goddess)  drank the water and delivered a baby with five heads and four arms. The river Goddess Ganga claimed to be her son. Lord Shiva told that it is Goddess Parvathi's son and reduced the five heads to one head and enthroned him as the Remover of Obstacles, Vignesha.

Version 2:

Another tale narrates an incident where Lord Shiva slew the son of Sage Kashyapa.  Lord Shiva restored life to the dead son, by fixing the head of Indra’s elephant to the body of Kashyapa‘s son Aditya. But Kashyapa did not cool down. He cursed and declared that Shiva's son would lose his head and experience the same fate.

Version 3:

Lord Shiva insisted Goddess Parvathi to fast for one year (Punyaka Vrata) to please Lord Vishnu to grant Her a baby. Lord Vishnu announced that He would be born as Her baby after the completion of every Kalpa (lengthy period of the life cycle of cosmos or a day of Brahma from creation to dissolution calculated approximately 4,320 million human years).

So a charming baby was born to Goddess Parvathi. All the Gods were invited and it was a great celebration. All Gods took a look at the baby and blessed the baby. Shani, son of Surya hesitated to look at the baby as he had the curse of the gaze of destruction. But Goddess Parvathi insisted Shani, to look at the baby. When Shani looked at the baby, immediately the baby's head fell off and flew to Goloka.

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi were filled with grief. Lord Vishnu on His divine Eagle (Garuda) flew to the banks of the River Pushpa- Bhadra and fixed the head of a young elephant to the headless body of the baby. Thus the baby was revived and was named Ganesha and all the Gods blessed him with power and prosperity.

Another story about how the mouse became the Vahana (vehicle) of Lord Ganesha:

Lord Ganesha crushed the ego of an Asura called Gajamukhasura, who transformed into a mouse and devoted himself to serve Lord Ganesha, so Ganesha chose mouse to be His Vahana.

Different parts of Lord Ganesha represents:

1. Large Ears represents the ability to separate the real from the unreal.

2. The human body represents supreme wisdom.

3. Big Head symbolizes wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and clear thinking.

4. Small eyes symbolize the importance of concentration and attention.

5. Small Mouth represents that the important feature of concentration is to listen more and talk less.

6. Large Trunk symbolizes adaptability and flexibility to achieve success.

7. A large Stomach represents the digestion of all types of experience, good and bad in life. 

8. Snake around His Waist symbolizes the cosmic energy.

9. Axe in His Hand cuts all the bonds of attachment and removes obstacles from the path of His devotees.

10. Rope in His Hand symbolizes that His devotees are pulled closer to the spiritual path.


11. Lord Ganesha’s One Tusk represents Ganesha’s ability to overcome all forms of dualism. 

12. Broken Tusk represents knowledge.

13. Modakam in His Hand symbolizes His abundant Love and boon that Lord Ganesha has and all the good things He can offer to His devotees.

14. Four Arms represent the four inner attributes mind, intellect, ego, and conditioned conscience that function in us. 

15. Ganesha’s One Leg raised up and the Other Leg Touching the ground symbolizes that we should take part both in the spiritual and material world.

16. Trishul on Lord Ganesha’s Forehead: symbolizes time (past, present, and future) and Lord Ganesha’s mastery over time.

17. Lord Ganesha’s Mouse is His Vehicle (Vahana) indicates that you have to control your desires and not the other way.

Reasons behind Ganesha’s broken tusk:

It is said that Ganesha wrote Mahabharatha as it was recited to him by Sage Vyasa.  It was done on the condition that Vyasa would not stop while reciting the epic and that Ganesha would not stop while writing and also understand every verse of it.

The feather with which Ganesha was writing broke, so to stick on to the condition of writing continuously, Ganesha broke His tusk and wrote with it. It took three years for both of them to complete the epic Mahabharatha. 

There is a belief that Lord Parashurama cut off one of Ganesha’s tusks because Ganesha did not allow him to enter the abode of Lord Shiva as Lord Shiva was busy praying.

The reason behind doing Thoppukarnam in front of Lord Ganesha:

In one of His playful moods, Ganesha took the Chakra from the hands of Maha Vishnu and put it in His mouth. As Ganesha was Maha Vishnu’s nephew, He chose not to force Ganesha and it is also very rare to get back from Ganesha what He has taken. So MahaVishnu thought of a humourous plan. Maha Vishnu holding His two ears with His four hands started dancing before Ganesha.

Ganesha burst out laughing, seeing Maha Vishnu dancing holding His ears and the Chakra fell down from His mouth.  So Lord Maha Vishnu made Thoppukaranam in front of Ganesha to recover Sudharshan Chakra from Ganesha.

People started to do Thoppukaranam while crossing any Ganesha temple and that is how it came into practice. Thorpi means hands and Karanam means ears. It is an act of placing two hands crosswise across the chest holding the tip of the earlobes with the thumb and index fingers and simultaneously bending the knees and then getting up and down five times. Actually, this is a good exercise for effective brain functioning.

Reason for gently tapping the Temples on forehead five times with closed fists:

It is believed that the nectar flows down from the Sahasrara Chakra to bathe Ganapathy who is seated below in the Muladhara Chakra. The nectar in the head flows down through all the nerves and invigorates them. 

Incarnations of Ganesha in Different Yugas:

In Satya Yuga or Krita Yuga, He was born as the son of Sage Kashyapa and Aditi and took the form of Mahotkata Vinayaka with Lion as His Vahana (vehicle). In Treta Yuga He was born as the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and incarnated as Mayureshwara with a peacock as His Vahana. In Dwapara Yuga He was born as the son of Varenya and incarnated as Gajanana with a mouse as His Vahana. In Kali Yuga, He adopts the form of Dhumaketu with Horse as His Vahana.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi 2020 to all my dear friends and blog readers! Check out my other South Indian festival procedures if interested, the festival posts links are given below for you. How to celebrate Varalakshmi Nombu and Pooja Procedure

The story, instructions, and procedures behind the Ganesh Chaturthi festival mentioned in this post are completely based on our family tradition. This is how we perform our Pooja at home and the main reason for this post is to keep an online record for myself and for our future generations. I also would like to share the same with our family members and friends for reference. I'm sure this post would be useful if you are performing this Pooja every year. You may share this post with anyone. Thank you for understanding.

Learn how to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi 2020 | Vinayagar Chathurthi | Vinayaka Chaturthi

Authors: Revathi & Pavithra