While making Ganeshotsav public, Tilak did not limit it to religious rituals only but made it a means to fight for freedom, remove untouchability and organize the society and enlighten the common man and gave it the form of a movement.
In the end, this movement made a significant contribution in shaking the foundation of the British Empire.
Ganesh Chaturthi: Bal Gangadhar Tilak had to face heavy opposition in starting Ganeshotsav
Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak had to face a lot of difficulty and opposition in starting that public function, which people celebrate with so much pomp these days.
However, in 1894, Lokmanya Tilak, who was determined, regardless of the heavy opposition of the liberal leaders of the Congress, laid the foundation of this glorious tradition.
Later, the public Ganeshotsav became a means of uniting people in the freedom struggle. During the freedom movement in the 1890s, Tilak often used to sit by the sea at Chowpatty and think about how to unite the people.
Suddenly an idea came to his mind, why not take out Ganeshotsav from homes and celebrate it in a public place, so that people of all castes can participate in it.
Vighnaharta Ganesh Puja has been taking place in India since ancient times.
The Peshwas started the tradition of celebrating the festival of Ganeshotsav and the credit for starting the public Ganeshotsav goes to Tilak.
Tilak started the public Ganeshotsav to create cultural consciousness among the masses and to unite the people.
However, the moderate camp of leaders like Vyomeshchandra Banerjee, Surendranath Banerjee, Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gopalkrishna Gokhale, Madanmohan Malviya, Motilal Nehru, Badruddin Tyabji and G Subramaniam Iyer, who dominated the Congress from 1885 to 1905, did not want the leaders of the Garam Dal. Begin the Tilak public Ganeshotsav.
In fact, the liberal section was also opposing the public Ganesh festival because of the riots in Mumbai and Pune in 1893. Therefore, no other Congressman supported Tilak.
But Tilak did not worry. He believed that there should be no compromise on the principles of life to achieve the goal.
However, when Tilak did not listen to the liberals, the Congress feared that making Ganeshotsav public could lead to riots. It is a matter of fact that Ganeshotsav was held responsible for the riots that took place after the event.
However, at that time Tilak was supported at the national level by Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Aurobindo Ghosh, Rajnarayan Bose and Ashwini Kumar Dutt. Be that as it may, Tilak later became popular as the most prolific Congress leader of his time.
In the twentieth century, the public Ganeshotsav became very popular. Veer Savarkar and Kavi Govind had formed the organization Mitramela to celebrate Ganeshotsav in Nashik.
Its task was to recite the patriotic Marathi folk song Povade engagingly. Powads had created a ruckus in western Maharashtra.
Crowds started gathering to listen to the poet Govind. Based on the story of Ram-Ravana, he was successful in instilling a sense of patriotism among the people.
Therefore, the freedom struggle started to be strengthened through Ganeshotsav.
In this way, in the cities of Nagpur, Wardha, Amravati etc. Ganeshotsav started the freedom movement.
It is said that the British were terrified by the public Ganeshotsav. Serious concerns were also expressed in this regard is the report of the Rowlatt Committee.
The report said that during Ganeshotsav, groups of youths roam the streets protesting against British rule and singing songs against Britain.
School children distribute pamphlets, which call for taking up arms against the British and rebelling like Shivaji.
Not only this, the religious struggle is said to be necessary to overthrow the British power.
Prominent national leaders such as Tilak, Savarkar, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Wrangler Paranjpe, Maulikchandra Sharma, Dadasaheb Khaparde and Sarojini Naidu were among those who gave speeches at public Ganesh festivals.
Tilak had become the leader of the Young Revolutionary Party at that time. He was a clear speaker and a master of delivering speeches effectively.
The British officers also knew very well that if Tilak gives a speech from any stage, then there is bound to be fire.
Tilak was fighting for ‘Swaraj’. Tilak’s public Ganeshotsav had two benefits, one that he was able to convey his ideas to the people and secondly that this festival also inspired the people to fight for Swaraj and filled them with enthusiasm.
In fact, after the revolution of 1857, Tilak’s role in the freedom movement was the most important. Many people say that if Tilak had not been there, it would have taken many more decades to get freedom.
It is also true that Tilak was grossly disregarded within Congress. He did not remain in agreement with the British Raj like contemporary leaders like Motilal Nehru.
Hence, he emerged as a challenger to the British Raj.
Tilak thought that the British should be driven away from here at any cost.
Therefore, instead of spreading his hand before the British power like other Congress leaders, he put his hard work into strengthening the way to expel them from India.
In 1914, through this declaration, ‘Swarajya is my birthright, I will have it’, Tilak filled the public with tremendous enthusiasm.
Before Tilak, no one had been able to arouse such a strong sense of respect for the country and self-nationalism in the entire Indian society so effectively.
For the end of the British Raj from India, he created public opinion against the British Raj by intensifying the flow of social consciousness through social movements.
In 1885, on the advice of the Viceroy Lord Dufferin, Annal Octavian Hume founded the Indian National Congress on 28 December 1885 to prevent the growing discontent under the leadership of Tilak from erupting.
Therefore, from its very birth, Congress tried its best to sideline Tilak.
The British realized that if Tilak’s efforts for social consciousness were strengthened, the time for his departure would come sooner.
Therefore, maliciously, the British established the Congress to control the freedom movement.
During Christmas in 1995, Tilak was unanimously made the head of the ‘Welcome Committee’ at the 11th session of the Congress in Pune.
But there was a lot of controversy in the party in the name of holding a social council in the Congress pandal.
Therefore, Tilak was forced to leave the reception committee of the Congress session. He believed that seeking freedom would never give it.
To take it, there will be an open struggle and one has to be ready for any kind of sacrifice.
Actually, if we look at the mythological history of Ganeshotsav, then according to the story of Narada Purana, once Mata Parvati made a living idol of the child from the filth of the body and named him Ganesha and made him stand at the door.
Parvati said, ‘I am going to take a bath, so don’t let anyone inside in the meantime.’
Lord Ganesha did not allow Lord Shiva to come inside, following the orders of his mother. In anger, Shankarji severed his throat.
On this Parvati started mourning. After this, Shiva brought the elephant’s child’s head to the child’s body and made it alive. That day was Chaturthi and since then the birth of Lord Ganesha was celebrated as a festival.
In course of time, Ganesha became the original deity of the Hindus. He got a special place in Hinduism.
Now, be it any religious festival, whether it is a Yagya, worship, good work or a marriage festival, if the work is done smoothly, therefore Ganesha is worshipped first in the form of auspiciousness.
If we talk about history, then seven vehicles in Maharashtra, kings like Rashtrakuta, Chalukya started the practice of Ganeshotsav.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj also worshipped Ganesha. The Peshwas promoted Ganeshotsav. Kasba Ganpati in Pune was established by Rajmata Jijabai.
Ganeshotsav is the biggest festival in Maharashtra. This festival lasts for ten days from Chaturthi to Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada month according to the Hindu calendar.
The Chaturthi of Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month is also called Ganesh Chaturthi. The prestige of Ganesha is spread equally throughout India.
Maharashtra worships it as the auspicious deity and in the name of Mangalpurti. Earlier Ganesh Puja was done at home.
While making the festival public, Tilak did not limit it to religious rituals only but made it a means to fight for freedom, remove untouchability and organize the society and enlighten the common man and gave it the form of a movement. In the end, this movement made a significant contribution in shaking the foundation of the British Empire.