Ganesh Chaturthi , also called Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a sacred hindu festival celebrated in honor of Lord Ganesha. People celebrate Lord Ganesha's birthday as Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesha is the elephant headed God ,son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten day long event, celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada, in between mid August-Mid September. In India every prayer start with Ganesha prayer , as Lord Ganesha is considered "Vighnaharta",the one who removes obstacles from life. It is also beileved that Ganesha brings peace and happiness in life.

Though this festival is celebrated in all over India,it is a major event in the state of Maharashtra. People start preparing for this festival months before. Everyone clean there houses , decorates the house and temple with flowers,buy new clothes,prepare offerings, and invite each other for the celebration. On the day one ,Ganesha's idol made up of clay ,is installed in the home temple,communities ,offices and main temples and prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha . People visit each others homes to see and pray to Lord Ganesha and distribute Modaks as Prasadam(offering). Modaks are sweet dumplings made up of rice flour or wheat flour with jaggerya and coconut stuffing. The sweet is considered to be the favorite sweet of Lord Ganesha.

It is said that if you observe this festival and install lord ganesha idol for all 10 days ,ganesha will take away all your pain and sorrows. The celebration continues till 10 days and on the day 10,on Anant Chaturdashi ,people immerse Ganesha's idol in the lake ,pond or sea with heavy heart.
People sing "Ganpati bappa morya pudhchya varshi lavkar ya" which means Lord Ganesha ,Please come back soon next year.

Popular Ganesh Temples - Ashtavinak

Ashtavinayak temples in Maharashtra
Ashtavinayaka or eight Ganeshas are located in Maharashtra,India, All these ashtvinayaka temples are swayambhu which means they are self-originated. The various names of Lord Ganesh are Moreshwar, Mahaganpati, Chintamani, Girijatmak, Vighneshwar, Siddhivinayak, Ballaleshwar and Varad Vinayak . All these temples are located at Pune, Ahamadnagar and Raigad district in Mahasthra.

The following tabular form represents the names of temples along with locations in which they are situated: Name of Temple Located At:
1Moreshwar TempleMorgaon,Pune
2 Siddhivinayak Temple Siddhatek, Ahmednagar
3 Ballaleshwar Temple Pali, Raigad
4 Varadavinayak Temple Mahad, near Khopoli, Raigad
5 Chintamani Temple Theur, Pune
6 Girijatmaj Temple Lenyadri, Pune
7 Vighnahar Temple Ozar, Pune
8 Mahaganapati Temple Ranjangaon, Pune

Siddhivinayak Temple

This temple is situated off the Pune-Solapur highway in Ahmadnagar district.
God Vishnu Defeated the demons Madhu and Kaitabh after propitiating Ganesh here. At Siddhatek Lord Ganesha gave Darshan to God Vishnu and it is believed that the temple is been built by Lord Vishnu. There are few unique things about that temple: first thing is that it is the only idol with the trunk pointing to the right secondly Riddhi and Siddhi idols are sitting on one thigh, Thirdly bhima river flows near river,which even when the flow is rapid it does not make any sound while flowing.
For making one round of the temple, one has to make the whole round of hillock which takes around 30 minutes.

The temple is open for devotees from 4am to 9:15pm.
From 4:30am to 5am the Saharan puja is performed.
At 10am the god is offered Khichdi
11am is the Panchamriti Puja.
At 12:30pm the Mahabhog is offered to god.
The third puja commences after sunset.
From 8:30pm to9: 15pm the Dhooparti is carried out.

Ballaleshwar Temple

Ballaleshwar Temple is located in the Pali village of raigad district. There is a legend associated with this temple.A long time ago there was a young boy whose name was Ballal.He was a son of a very rich businessman and a very sincere devotee of Lord Ganesha. His father was displeased with him because of his immense devotion at a very young age.He used to spend a large part of his day in worshipping lord Ganesha. Also he used to influence his friends to worship.The parents of his friends were very angry and complained this issue to his father.After listening complaints from other parents he went to find out Ballal. Finally he found him in the forest worshipping Lord Ganesh. As he was quite angry with complaints, he disrupted the puja, threw away the idol of Ganesh and beat his son. Even then also Balal was in favour of worshipping,so his father’s anger rose to high level and he tied him to a tree. After tying him to a tree he then left the forest asserting that let Lord Ganesh himself will come and rescue him.
Ballal was in great pain but he kept enchanting matras of Lord Ganesh.Then Lord Ganesh took an avtar of a Brahmin and appeared before him to set him free. After setting him free he asked ballal to make a wish. Ballal made a wish asking to Lord Ganesh to reside in this region. The God fulfilled his wish and resided in a stone which is now believed to be the idol of Ballaleshwar Vinayak.Later on the idol wich was thrown by ballal’s father was too placed in the temple and known by name by of Dhundivinayak .

The temple gates open for devotees at 5.30 a.m. and closes at 10.00 p.m.On Chaturthi days the timing of puja is between 6.00 a.m. to 9.00a.m.

Chintamani Temple

It is believed that Lord Ganesha have got back the precious wish-giving jewel Chinatamani from the greedy Guna for his devotee,for sage Kapila. Though, after bringing back the jewel, sage Kapila put it in Lord Ganesha's neck. Thus the temple was named Chintamani Vinayak.
This happened under the Kadamb tree, therefore Theur is known as Kadambanagar and also the lake behind the temple is called Kadambteertha.
Also the temple has a separate section for meditation known as Overry.You can also find a small Shiva temple in the premises of this temple.

Moreshwar Temple

Moreshwar Temple

The temple is situated in the centre of the Morgaon village in Pune. To prevent attacks on the temple during mughal periods,it is covered by four Minarets from all sides making it look like a mosque.

There is a nandi bull sitting in front of this temple entrance, which makes temple somewhat different as nandi is normally in situated in front of all the Shiva temples. However, there is legend attached to it and story says that this statue was being carried to some Shiva mandir but due to vehicle breakdown it took a break and after that the nandi idol could not be removed from its current place.

The idol of Lord Ganesha, riding a peacock, in the form of Mayureshwara that is why temple is named moreshwar.It is beleieved that lord ganesha has killed the devil Sindhurasur at this point.Along with Lord ganesha there are two more idols Siddhi (Capability) and Buddhi (Intelligence) placed in the temple.

The idol of Mayureshwar is in the garbhagriha or the sanctum in which only the main priest can enter.

The temple is open for devotees from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prakshalpuja - The first puja of the day id performed at 5 a.m. which comprises of the water abhisheka and flower offerings.
Shodoshpchar Puja - It is performed twice a day at 7 a.m. and at 12 noon.
Panchopchar Puja - This is performed at 8 p.m

Mahaganapati Temple

The temple of Maha Ganpati is situated in Ranjangaon. The temple was built by Shiva where he worshipped Ganesha before fighting the demon Tripurasura here. There is legend associated with this temple -Tripurasur who was a young boy who the Sage Gritsamad brought up as his own son. The sage taught the boy the all the pujas and Ganana Twam, Ganesh Mantra. The young boy used to meditate intensely on Lord Ganesh.Due to this intense meditation lord ganesha was happy and ultimately blessed him. He gave him the three puras of gold, silver and iron. As he was the owner of these three puras he was given the name Tripur.

As lord Ganesh was very happy with him so he bestowed on Tripur and made it to be the most powerful. No one could destroy but only Lord Shiva could destroy it. Due to this boon Tripur was very proud and he brought disaster in the entire world. He conquered the whole world and then moved towards Heaven to takeover heaven also. He defeated Lord Indra and he was so aggressive that he made Lord Brahma hide in a lotus and Lord Vishnu in the Shirsagar. Then he took over Lord Shiva's Kailash Parvat and finally he became the King of all the three worlds. The gods were very worried and wanted to defeat Tripurasur to get their kingdoms back.
Lord Narada had discussion with other gods and told them that as he has been granted a boon by Lord Ganesh himself so it is very difficult to defeat him. He asked them to meditate on Lord Ganesh.After lots of meditation, Lord Ganesha was pleased and decided to help the Gods.

He took the avatar of brahmin and visited Tripurasur.After meeting him he informed tripurasur that he was a very enlightened Brahmin and could make for him three flying planes. On riding these he three planes he would be able to go anywhere within minutes and these planes could only be destroyed by Shiva.
But in return he asked him to get him the idol of Chintamani which was at the Kailash Mountain.So Tripurasur sent his messenger to bring the idol but Lord shiva refused to give the statue to him. The proud Tripurasur got angry and he himself went to get the statue. A fierce battle started between him and Lord Shiva. He destroyed everything that belonged to the Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva too realized that he can only destroy Tripurasur after paying respects to Lord Ganesh.

Lord Shiva then recited the Shadaakshar Mantra to invoke Ganesha. On doing so from his mouth emerged Gajanan to grant Shiva a boon. Lord ganesha Directed Shiva on how he can kill Tripurasur. Lord Shiva was asked to recite the Sahastranam and then direct an arrow at the three pura-s of Tripurasur.Lord Shiva followed the direction of lord ganesha and finally vanquished Tripurasur.Lord Shiva also created temple for lord ganesha where he meditated and invoked Lord Ganesha.

Girijatmaj Temple

Parvati ji ,shivas wife meditated for 12 years in Lenyadri for getting a son. Lord ganesha was very much pleased by her penance and blessed her with the boon that he will be born as her son. Lenayadri consist of total 30 buddhist caves. This temple is in the 7th cave. To reach this temple you have to climb around 307 steps. Anyone can worship this temple. The most important feature is that the temple is constructed in such a way that it is always lighted by sun rays and there is no electric bulb in the temple.

Varadavinayak Temple

It is located in Madh village situated in Khalapur and Khopoli of Raigad District, Maharashtra, India.

Like other temples this temple also has legend attached to it.
According to the legend once there was a king who did not have any child.The king Bhima of Koudinyapur and his wife Vishwamitra came to forest for penance. Vishwamitra gave the king a mantra Ekashar Gajana Mantra to chant and after that his son prince Rukmaganda was born. Rukmaganda was a very handsome young prince.Once he went hunting and took a break at Rishi Vachaknavi ashram. Prince was so attractive that the Rishi's wife, Mukunda, fell in love with him and asked him to fulfill her desires. The prince refused and left the ashram but Mukunda became lovesick. King Indra took the avatar of prince and made love to her. Mukunda became pregnant and gave birth to a son and kept his name as Gritsamada.
When Gritsamada grew p then he came to know about the circumstances of his birth.He was so angry that he cursed his mother to become the unattractive and a thorny berry-bearing "Bhor" plant. Mukunda also got very angry after hearing this and in turn she cursed Gritsamada, that he will become a father of a cruel demon. Suddenly they heard a heavenly voice saying, that "Gritsamada is the son of lord Indra".After hearing this they both were shocked, but it was too late to alter their curses. Mukunda turned into a Bhor plant. Gritsamada, was feeling guilty,he went to Pushpak forest where he meditated in the name of Lord Ganesha.
Lord Ganesha was happy with Gritsamada's and gave him a boon that he will bear a son who would not be defeated by anybody other than lord Shiva.
Gritsamada built a temple there and kept the Ganesha idol there and named the temple as Varadavinayaka and the forest is known as Bhadraka.
The unique thing about this temple is that if the coconut received as prasad during Maghi Chaturthi is consumed, one will be blessed with a son.

Vighnahar Temple

It is located in Ozhar,Maharashtra, India. The legend associated with it says that Vighnasur was a demon who was created lord Indra to destroy the prayer organized by King Abhinandan. But the demon didn’t stopped after this and went to destroy further and destroyed all vedic, religious acts. People prayed for protection and to answer the people's prayers , Lord Ganesha defeated him.
After being defeated the demon begged and pleaded to show a mercy. Ganesha then granted in his plea, but on the condition that demon should not go to the place where Ganesha worshipping is going on. Demon asked a favour that his name should be taken before Ganesha's name, thus the name of Ganesha became Vighnahar or Vighneshwar .The Ganesha here is called Shri Vighneshwar Vinayak.