The remarkable festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals in India. It’s a 10 day Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the elephant headed Lord Ganesha, the herald of auspicious beginnings and the God of wisdom. According to the Hindu calendar, the festival is celebrated on the 4th day of the Bhadrapada month. It mainly involves the worshipping of an idol of Lord Ganapati in a pandal or a temple and immersing the same in water at the end of the festival. Certain regions or areas in India are more pompous in terms of celebrations. The most elaborate and extravagant celebrations take place in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The Ganesh Chaturthi festival begins with welcoming home a clay statue of the god or to the beautifully decorated pandals or tents. Available in all shapes and sizes, each Ganesh idol has a story to tell. This multi-dimensional character of the Lord is what endears him to his devotees. The deity accompanied with traditional drum beats and soaring chants arrives to the place which would be his home for the next 11 days. Ceremonial rituals are then performed to invoke the Lord’s presence in the idol. Variety of sweets, rice, flowers are offered to the deity. Modak- a sweet which is said to be Lord’s favorite is a popular sweet that can be found everywhere during this festival. Each day starts with regular morning and evening rituals and special events of chanting prayers, singing religious songs and traditional dances.
Photo by thejasp
The families who host the deity, invite their relatives to visit and it’s a tradition not to send their guests empty handed. The events hosted by the community is open to all for all 11 days. The last day of the worship is the most exciting of all, the devotees surround the idol in large numbers to pray for the last time as the idol is carried away to be immersed in water. This ritual is well known as “Visarjan”. The idol of Lord Ganesha embellished with fabric and flowers is taken out of the pandals amidst large number of devotees dancing and singing to the drum beats, chanting verses “ Ganapati Bappa Morya! Pudhcya varshi lavkar ya!” in praise of the lord and urging him to come back again next year.
Photo by Vanxarp
At the time of sunset a large number of Ganesh idols show up for immersion. The energy and thrill defies how crowded the sea beach actually is. It feels as if the idols, glittering with their charming appearance are showering plentiful of blessings on the people. The journey of the idol from the beach to the sea water is worth experiencing. An idol is placed on the wheeled podium and pulled with full energy by the organizers which makes the idol gust towards the sea water.
Photo by Chetan Gole
Tips to enjoy Mumbai’s Ganesh Festival
- Dress comfortably and modestly
- In case you want to join the crowds dancing, join in where there are women and families
- Be prepared for massive crowd.
- Don’t carry valuables
- Try going in a group as it is easy to be lost in such a huge crowd and will be difficult to trace your companions.
- Carry food and water with you.
Where to See Ganesh Chaturthi
- The largest and the well-known Ganesh statue can be found at Lalbaug in central Mumbai. Large number of people gather to offer prayers.
- Another famous Ganapati idols is Khetwadi Ganraj, close to Chowpatty in Girgaum. The Ganapati idol has been known to sparkle with diamonds and gold. If you want to see an idol in pure gold then you have to visit GSB Seva Ganesh Mandal in Matunga.
Wish you a Happy and a Blessed Ganesh Chaturthi!
Ganpati Bappa Morya!!