Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated on the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati. As per legend, Lord Ganesha is the created son of goddess Parvati. At a severe fight when all the gods were defeated by the baby Ganesha, Shiva severed his head and brought on the rage of Goddess Parvati. However, Shiva promised to revive her son again. And when the head of a baby elephant was placed on the body of Ganesha, he was revived. Shiva declared her son Ganesha as superior in power to all the gods. Lord Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity, and good fortune. He is traditionally invoked at the start of any new business, venture or travel.
The festival is also known as Ganesh Utsav, It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapada, starting at the Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for ten days and ends on Ananta Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).
The festival is widely celebrated all over India, mostly in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh. It is not only a religious festival, but has become a very important occasion of activity in trade and commerce in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai. Many industries and business survive on this mega-event. It is also the time for cultural activities like music, orchestra and theatrical performance. The festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. Some community activities like a free medical check-up, blood donation camps, a charity for the poor etc. are held during the festival. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many others including Muslims, Jains, Christians participate in this popular festival. In Mangalore, there is a traditional belief that the eldest son of the home should be present during the puja of Lord Ganesha.
Outside India, it is widely celebrated in Nepal, and by the Hindus in the UK, US, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Fiji, Trinidad, and Guyana. Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated by the migrant Hindu population for the first time in London at the Viswa Hindu Temple in 2005. The idol was immersed in the river Thames. Annual celebrations also take place on the River Mersey at Liverpool. The festival is similarly celebrated in many locations across the world. In the US it is observed by various associations of Telugu—speaking people. The Philadelphia Ganesh Festival, popularly known as PGF, is the largest sarvajanin (fully contributed by public funds) Hindu festival in North America. Since 2005 the festival is conducted every year in Bharatiya Temple in Pennsylvania. While the Marathi community plays a big role in organizing the festival, participation from all communities—Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, North Indian, Bengalee, etc.—marks it a grand success. It is very common to see pictures or statues of Lord Ganesha at the entrance of homes, business premises and schools.
Thus the public celebration of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is very popular. On the final day of the Ganesh festival, thousands of idols are immersed in the water—bodies causing environmental impact. Some suggestions have been offered to solve the problem. They are: ban on the immersion of plaster idols into lakes, rivers and the sea and placement of a permanent icon made of stone and brass to be used every year with a symbolic immersion only.