Ganesh Utsav lasts for eleven days and ends on Anant Chaturdashi or fourteenth day of the month.
Ganesh Chaturthi is believed to be the birthday of Lord Ganesh. Ganesh is the son of God Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Parvati made Ganesh with the 'ubtan' or exfoliating paste from off her body and gave it life. Once Ganesh was assigned the task, by his mother, of gate keeper while his mother bathed inside the house. Just then, Shiva unaware of anything, wanted to enter his home but was not allowed entry by little Ganesh. Shiva, in a rage, severed the head of the child. On hearing the noise, Parvati appeared and on seeing her beheaded child, demanded that the child be brought back to life. On hearing all the story, Shiva replaced Ganesh's head with an elephant's head and brought the child back to life.
Ganesh is 'Mangalkari' or auspicious. He is first among all Gods and prayed to first. He is also known as 'Vinayaka' or 'Vighnaraja' or one who removes all obstacles and impediments in the path of completion of any task or work. Ganesh is the God of wisdom and prosperity and is usually depicted as sitting next to Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi. Ganesh is also 'Shubh' or auspicious and all major work is started with an invocation to him.