The puja done throughout the festival is done in four parts. Each part has its own particular significance and holds a profound spiritual meaning.
1. Pran Pratishtha
Pran Pratishtha is the first and most important ritual. The puja starts with the Pran Pratishtha. The ritual is performed to bring the idol to life and invite the god to stay in the home.
It is believed that when Pran Pratishtha has been done for an idol, devotees start treating Him like a living being.
2. Shodashopachara Puja
Shodashopachara is a sixteen-step puja that involves inviting the god, offering Him a place in the home, bathing the idol, offering clothes, janaue (sacred thread), applying kumkum, chandan, akshat, perfume, offering flowers, and doorva.
Then the incense and diya are lit. The devotees sing the aarti and bhajans to please the lord.
After chanting the mantras and hymns, food, or bhog, is offered, which primarily includes fruits, sweets, modak, dry fruits, betel leaves, and panchamrit.
The entire process of Shodashopachara ends with the devotees bowing their heads to the deity to seek His blessings.
The devotee performs this puja daily during the ten-day period of Ganesh Chaturthi until the day he immerses the idol of Shri Ganesha.
Mantra recitation is also of great significance these days. After completing the daily puja, devotees can recite this mantra 108 times -
Om Gan Ganpataye Namo Namah
3. Uttar Puja
Uttar puja is a puja that is performed before taking the idol for immersion.
This puja involves applying kum-kum and chandan to the idol. Along with the kumkum and chandan, devotees offer flowers, doorva, and bhog.
After this, dhoop and diya are placed in front of the idol. Devotees then chant the mantras and sing the aarti before Shri Ganesha.
Devotees then bow their heads and seek the blessings of the Shri Ganesha.
After the completion of the Uttar puja, everyone showers akshat on the Lord. The head of the family or the person in charge of conducting the puja then slightly moves the idol with his right hand.
Immersion is the last part of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. It marks the end of the stay of Shri Ganesha in his devotee’s home.
Visarjan, done on the last day, is popularly known as Anant Chaturdashi. The devotees take the idol for visarjan after the completion of the Uttar puja.
On reaching the spot of immersion, devotees perform the aarti for one last time and seek the blessings of the Shri Ganesha. Besides seeking His blessings, they request their favourite lord to return quickly next year.
The idol of the lord is then handed over for immersion in water. While taking the idol for immersion and during the entire process, devotees continuously chant 'Ganapati Bappa Morya Pudhchya Varshi Laukariya'. It's a plea to Shri Ganpati, requesting Him He return early next year.