INDIA: The 11-day-long Ganesh festival kicked off with zeal and enthusiasm when the small and giant-sized idols, accompanied by the beating of drums and a sprinkling of ‘gulal’ (red colored powder), were brought and installed by households and public groups across the country on Wednesday.
Also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’, the festival marks the birth of Lord Ganesha (Bhadrapad Chaturthi). The festival ends after 11 days (Anant Chaturdashi) when people come out in large numbers to immerse (Visarjan) the idols in the river, sea or artificial ponds. This year the Ganesh Visarjan will be on September 09.
On Wednesday, the festival began with devotees bringing colourfully-crafted idols of the elephant-headed God (also known as Vighnaharta, the one who wards off evil) into their homes and pandals. Several beautifully decked-up pandals have been erected across Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and Nagpur, and huge idols of Lord Ganesha have been placed on raised platforms for people to worship.
These make-shift pandals also serve as a venue for promoting social causes such as free medical checkups, blood donation camps, a charity for the poor, and cultural programs during the festival days.
There is a huge lineup of giant-sized statues, which are also titled Raja (king) as per location in Mumbai. A 38 feet idol in Parshuram avatar has been installed by Khetwadi Ganesh Mandal (South Mumbai), which has entered its 67th year of celebration.
The Ganesh Galli, Lalbaug Mandal’s (South Mumbai) (Mumbaicha Raja) entering its 95th year, has installed a 22 feet tall idol in the replica of Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
The “Paralcha Raja”, which has completed 75 years since the Mandal was established in 1947, has installed a 23 feet idol in the replica of “Gurukul” (a traditional school in India with students (shishya) living near their guru (teacher), The “Umarkhadicha Raja” (Sandhurst Raod, South Mumbai) also set up in 1947 has installed a 20 feet idol.
The famed Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh Mandal ( South Mumbai), entering its 89th year, has installed a 12 feet tall Ganesh idol seated majestically on a throne.
The Mandals vying in terms of huge idols and magnanimous decoration include: “Chinchpokalicha Chintamani” (Chinchpokli), “Paralcha Vighnaharta”, “Bal Ganesh Mandal”, Kalachowki, “, Labour Campcha Ganraj” (Matunga, Central Mumbai), “Kalewadicha Vignahrta” (G D Ambekar Marg, Parel (South Mumbai), “Kamathipuracha Maharaja” (Mumbai Central) and GSB Mandal, Kings Circle (Central Mumbai).
Despite high inflation and rising fuel prices, people all over India rolled out the red carpet for the popular Lord Ganesha. Scores of people thronged the famous Siddhivinayak temple in Central Mumbai to seek God’s blessings amid chants of “Ganpati Bappa Morya”, offering ‘modaks’ (sweets) as prasad. During the festival, prayers will be offered, and religious ceremonies will be organized. Besides, there will be cultural programs ensuring community gatherings.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi and wished that the spirit of kindness and brotherhood always prevail. “Best wishes on Ganesh Chaturthi. May the blessings of Bhagwan Shri Ganesh always remain upon us,” he tweeted.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari greeted people on occasion. “May Lord Ganesh shower his blessings on the people of the state, and may the festival bring peace, prosperity, and happiness to all,” Shinde said in his message.
While the festival is being celebrated in neighboring Goa, in a traditional manner, an exhibition of paintings of Ganesh in various moods, titled “Aham Brahmasmi”, has been organized at Bambolkar Art Gallery at Ponda. The paintings on display are by artists Vasudev Shetye, Siddharth Gaitonde, and others. A host of cultural programs, including plays and speeches, have also been organized in Goa.
In North Delhi, a Ganesh Mandal has installed a replica of the “Lalbaugcha Raja” Ganesh idol in Pitampura. Besides, many other Mandals, including the Maharashtra Sadan Ganesh Mandal, celebrate the Ganesh festival.
In Odisha, the renowned sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik has created a six-foot-high sand sculpture of Lord Ganesh using 3,425 sand ladoos at the Puri beach, with a message “Happy Ganesh Puja”. He shows two elephants in his sculpture praying for the environment.
The giant idols have also been installed in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.
Also Read: Ganesh Chaturthi 2022: Know the Significance of This Auspicious Day