It is unclear when the festival started, it may have South Indian origins, but historical evidence suggests it became a major social and public event with sponsorship of Shivaji after Mughal-Maratha wars, and again in the 19th century after public appeal by Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, Both of these hymns imply a role of Ganapati as "the seer among the seers, abounding beyond measure in food presiding among the elders and being the lord of invocation", while the hymn in mandala 10 states that without Ganapati "nothing nearby or afar is performed without thee", according to Michael.
Ganapati appears in post-Vedic texts such as the Grhya Sutras and thereafter ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Vajasaneyi Samhita, the Yajnavalkya Smriti and the Mahabharata mention Ganapati as Ganesvaras and Vinayakas.
A ten-day festival, it starts on the fourth day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in Gregorian months of August or September.
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In 1893, Tilak helped expand Ganesh Chaturthi festival into a mass community event and a hidden means for political activism, intellectual discourse, poetry recitals, plays, concerts, and folk dances.
In Goa, Ganesha Chaturthi predates the Kadamba era.
After the start of the British Raj, the Ganesha festival lost state patronage and became a private family celebration in Maharashtra until its revival by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.
The festival, along with processions, was already in vogue as a public and a private celebration in Mumbai (then called Bombay) in 1885, according to the eyewitness account by a visiting Italian Sanskrit professor Angelo de Gubernatis: I followed with the greatest curiosity crowds who carried in procession an infinite number of idols of the god Ganesh.