Why and When Ganesha Celebrations are started?

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Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the major festivals celebrated in India with great enthusiasm and devotion. The festival marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha; the Lord of knowledge, wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. The festival is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi. This day, observed as one of the most auspicious in the Hindu religion, is widely celebrated. However, historians have different opinions about when people started celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi as a puja in India. According to some, the founder of the Maratha Empire .Chhatrapati Shivaji first started celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in great enthusiasm since Lord Ganesha was the Kuladevata (family god) of the Peshwas. In 1893, revolutionary freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak urged the masses to come together to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi. His main motive was to inculcate the feeling of patriotism among people at a time when British discouraged social gatherings. However the celebration?s continued and commence from almost a month before the festival. The celebrations last for around ten days (from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to Ananta Chaturdashi). On the first day a clay idol of Lord Ganesha is installed in homes. Homes are decorated. Temples witness the visit of large number of devotees. Pujas are performed and bhajans are chanted. Often, families gather together to celebrate the festival. Localities organize and arrange for pandals and install large idols of Lord Ganesha to celebrate the festival with friends and family. On the final day of the celebrations, the idol of Lord Ganesha is taken on the streets. People exhibit their enthusiasm and joy in the form of dancing and singing on the streets along with the idol. The idol is finally immersed in the river or sea. The day witnesses a large number of devotees expressing their happiness and offering their prayers.