A number of festivals are celebrated in India. When asked about the most prominent ones, the answer of a large majority of people would be Diwali, Eid or Christmas. This is quite logical since these three festivals are the most famous ones, been celebrated all over the country. However, if someone throws the question on me, my answer would be Ganeshotsav or Ganesh Chaturthi. Apart from my admiration towards Lord Ganesha, this is simply because of the history attached with the festival.
According to Indian history, the festival is been celebrated in Maharashtra since the time of Shivaji (after 1600). But it was freedom fighter and social worker Lokmanya Tilak who transformed the festival into a national event since 1893.
Tilak’s idea was to unite Indians under this festival to fight against the British, who had discouraged all social and political gatherings. Apart from this, the festival also intended to do the much needed task to bridging the gap between the so-called upper and lower castes. Due to Tilak’s encouragement, people from all communities started participating in the festival. Hence, these are reasons enough to believe that Ganeshotsav is a national festival instead of just a Hindu festival.
This is also evident from the fact that the festival is celebrated with much aplomb by even non-Hindus as well (see picture). The most prominent among these is actor Salman Khan.
This Ganeshotsav, let us pray to Lord Ganesha for such brotherhood and unity among Indians throughout the year.