The festival of Anant Chaturdasi is a festival of purification. Because this festival falls on the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period, the dates of the festival vary from year to year. In 2013, the Anant Chaturdashi will fall on 18th September.
Anant Chaturdashi is also the last day of the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav. It is generally the tenth or eleventh day after Ganesh Chaturthi, and all the Ganesh idols brought into homes and communities are immersed in the sea or nearby lakes and rivers.
On this day, people travel to the waterfront with the idols, large and small, dancing and singing in large processions. Lord Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal excitement.
In parts of Bihar and Eastern UP, the festival is closely linked to Ocean of Milk (kshirsagar) and Lord Vishnu's Anant Roopa. The ritual is as follows:
Fourteen tilaks (small vertical strips) of vermilion are made on a wooden plank. Fourteen puri (fried wheat bread) and fourteen pua (deep fried sweet wheat bread) are placed on these vermilion strips. A bowl containing Panchamrit (made of Milk, Curd, Jaggery, Honey and Ghee) symbolizing kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk) is placed on this wooden plank. A thread having fourteen knots, symbolizing Lord Anant is wrapped on a cucumber and is swirled five times in this "Ocean of Milk". Later this Anant thread is tied on the right arm above the elbow by men. Women tie this on their left arm. This Anant thread is removed after fourteen days.