28 August, 2014

Vinayaka Chavithi Celebrations - in Andhra style

Vinayaka Chavithi is a unique festival for Telugu people because of the way it is celebrated with family members. It is fun time especially for kids, decorating clay idol, Palavelli (Wooden frame to tie fruits), marking all notebooks with Om or Swastik symbol with watery vermilion paste, praying Lord Ganesha with different types of leaves (patri), helping mother in preparation of special dishes for the day - Vundrallu and talukalu. I have many wonderful memories associated with this festival from childhood. As children, we used to wait for this day for whole year.

Importance of festival:
Before I touch upon our way of celebrating this festival, i should also tell you the importance of the festival in our lives. This is celebrated as the birth date of Lord Ganesha, Son of Lord Parameswara and Goddess Parvathi. Ganesha is also known as Vighnadhipathi, which means first God to be prayed before starting any work to avoid obstacles and bring success.

Story behind Puja:
The legend is that Moon God laughed at Vinayaka on his birthday watching him walking slowly because of over eating his favorite dish Vundrallu, which made Vinayaka's belly burst. Goddess Parvathi is upset with this and cursed that no one should see moon from now on, or else, they will face many obstacles/problems. When all other devatas requested her for a remedy, she changed curse saying that whoever watches moon on Vinayaka Chavithi without performing puja to Lord Ganesha and without wearing akshinthalu (rice with turmeric powder kept in puja), will face problems. So, it has become a custom in Telugu household to perform puja on that day morning to Lord Ganesha, by taking head bath, wearing new dresses, preparing and offering dishes which please Ganesha, listening to the above story and wearing those puja akshinthalu at the end.

Puja process:
We buy Ganesh idol made of clay, different types of fruits available and different types of leaves(patri) to perform puja. We prepare and offer Vundrallu/ Kudumulu, Chalividi, Vadapappu, Panakam and a sweet called 'Talukalu' prepared either with jaggery or sugar and milk. Each fruit bought for Puja will be cleaned, applied with vermilion paste and kumkuma and tied to Palavelli (a wooden frame), which is tied above the Ganesha idol. All fruits are tied symmetrically as shown in images. Some also buy and place an umbrella above clay idol. We usually write Om/ swastik symbol on academic note books of children with vermilion paste and kumkum and keep before God during puja. After performing puja, we listen to the story about Vinayaka's birth and wear akshinthalu at the end. We end the puja with harathi and distribute prasadam. Usually, we keep God decorated in household and pray for at least 3 days and leave the puja remains along with idol in a lake, which is known as 'Nimajjanam'. Few people perform puja at home daily till 7 or 9 days before immersing idol in lake on 10th day. Because of performing puja and wearing akkshinthalu on head on that day, it is believed that no problem arises even by seeing moon by mistake. So, that's how we celebrate making every family member participate actively. 

Let me know how you celebrate this festival :)

Until next time,



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