Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi, is celebrated every year for 10–11 days. But in certain states like Maharashtra, the celebrations can be for 1.5, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 days.
Before bringing the Lord home, people clean their houses and decorate the doorway with a fresh toran of flowers. They create a separate space where Lord Ganesh will reside for his stay in their home. This space is decorated with flowers, lights, and other decorative items.
Lord Ganesh is then brought home during an auspicious time on Chaturthi. Usually, devotees bring him home on a choki with the idol covered with a new cloth. He is welcomed home with a tikka and then placed in the space decorated specially for him. The puja for Lord Ganesh is performed in four parts. which are as follows:
1. Pran Pratishtha: This is the first and most important ritual. The puja starts with Pran Pratishtha . This ritual is done to infuse life into the idol and invite the god to reside in the home. It is believed that when Pran Pratishtha has been done for an idol, it needs to be treated like a living being.
2. Shodashopachara Puja: This is a sixteen-step puja that involves inviting the god, offering him/her a place in the home, bathing the idol, offering clothes, janaue (sacred thread), applying kumkum, chandan, and akshat, perfume, and offering flowers and doorva. Then the dhoop and diya are lit, and the devotee with his/her family sings the aarti/bhajans. After this, bhog (food) is offered, which should include fruits, sweets, modak dry fruits, betel leaves, and charnamat or panchamrit. This vidhi ends with the devotees bowing their heads to the deity to seek blessings. This puja is to be performed daily during the ten-day period of Ganesh Chaturthi or till you have Ganpati at home.
Mantra recitation is also of great significance during these days. After completing the daily puja, devotees can recite the mantra Om Gan Ganpataye Namo Namaha 108 times.
3. Uttar Puja: This is the puja that is performed before taking the idol for Visarjan. This involves applying kum kum and chandan on the idol. Offering flowers, doorva, and bhog . After this, light a dhoop and a diya, place them in front of the idol. And recite the mantras and sing the aarti. Complete the process by bowing your head in front of the deity to gain his blessings.
Upon completion of the Uttar puja, everyone should offer akshat to the Lord, and then the head of the family or the person in charge of conducting the puja should slightly move the idol with their right hand.
Visarjan: This is the last part of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Visarjan is done on the last day; it is also known as Anant Chaturdashi. The idol is to be taken for visarjan after completing the Uttar puja. On reaching the visarjan spot, a last aarti is performed and blessings are seeked. The idol is then handed over for immersion in water with chants of Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya, this is a plea to Lord Ganpati, that we’re saying goodbye now, but you must come back again next year.