The season is such that you cannot not be in a mood to indulge. After Rakhi and Janmashtami, we are gearing up for Ganesh Chaturthi. One of the most widely celebrated festivals of India, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the arrival of Lord Ganesha from Mount Kailasha to planet earth. Also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day long festival which is celebrated with much pomp and splendour. Sculptors start building idols of Lord Ganesha weeks in advance. While some people install mini-idols of Lord Ganesha in their house, some choose to go to the temple to offer their prayers. Ganesh Chaturthi is especially popular in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The large-scale celebrations continue till the ‘Visarjan’ where after the idol of Ganesha is immersed in water so that he reaches his abode in Kailasha safely only to come back later next year. The ‘scale’ of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations has a fascinating history of its own. It is said that freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak urged people to come out in huge numbers to celebrate the Indian festival as a mark of protest against the ban that the British government had imposed on large religious gatherings as they feared that people would mobilise against the British rule. 

 

Modak's Significance In Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations

Over the years, Ganesh Chaturthi has come to be associated with various sweets and savouries. ‘Modak’, a dumpling-like sweet is an intrinsic part of the Ganesh Chaturthi feast. Modak is to Ganesh Chaturthi what Kaju Katli is to Diwali or Gujiya to Holi, you can have it on other occasions but you have to have it on Ganesh Chaturthi. But have you ever wondered why the sweet rose to such prominence? Here’s what the popular legend 

How Modak Satiated The Hungry Bal Ganesha  

Once Lord Shiva visited Rishi Atri and his wife Anusuya at their cottage in a forest with little Ganesha by his side. Since the journey was long, Lord Shiva was very hungry, but Anusuya had made up her mind that she would serve Lord Shiva only after Lord Ganesha is fully fed, which proved to be quite a task, no matter what she brought in front of him, he would gorge on it and was still not ‘full’. Lord Shiva’s hunger knew no bounds, however he had no choice but to wait. Upon realising that Lord Shiva may not be left with anything to eat, Anusuya served lord Ganesha a dumpling like sweet. Lord Ganesha happily gorged on it and burped, indicating that he was full. Goddess Parvati was stunned to see this, she enquired about the sweet and learned that it was called ‘Modak’, soon she started preparing many ‘Modaks’ for Lord Ganesha who would feast on it very happily. She also wished that all of Lord Ganesha’s devotees should serve him Modaks in all their Pujas. 

The most popular variety of Modak that is often prepared during this time is Ukadiche Modak, where a sweet filling of grated coconut, jaggery and nuts is stuffed in a soft shell made of rice flour. The dumpling is given a conical shape with a pointy head. Here is a recipe you may like to try this year.