INDIA. Mumbai: “Ganeshotsav”, the 10-day-long festival of the elephant-headed god Lord Ganesha, begins across the country, including Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Telangana on Tuesday, with households and Mandals (public groups) making an elaborate arrangement for celebration.
“Ganesh Chaturthi”, also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’, is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Lord Ganesha to earth from Mount Kailash with his mother Goddess Parvati on Bhadrapad Chaturthi.
The festival begins with devotees bringing colourfully crafted idols of Lord Ganesha into their homes and pandals, most of them with thematic representations of social issues. The aartis add the flavour of the festival. The idols are immersed in the river, sea, or artificial ponds on the 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 10th/11th day (Anant Chaturdhashi), which will be on September 28 this year.
The tradition of public celebration of the festival was started by the great Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak in 1893 in Maharashtra to organise people to raise their voices against the then-British regime.
Several beautifully decked-up pandals have been erected across Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and Nagpur in Maharashtra and elsewhere in the country. These 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 has been a sizable increase in the number of Mandals in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), with the number of Mandals rising up to 7635 as against 5997 last year. The MMR covers Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Palghar, and Vasai-Virar. In Mumbai alone, the number of Mandals has shot up to 3700 (2367 in 2022).
The famed “Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal”, in its 90th year, has installed a 12-feet idol and has erected a scene of the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Mandal has secured insurance coverage amounting to Rs 26.54 crore from New India Assurance.
The “Nikadvari Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandal” at Girgaum in South Mumbai, in its 96 years, has raised the set of the forts of the Maratha empire. Notably, the idol here is made of “Shadu clay” (which dissolves fast in water) instead of the idol made of Plaster of Paris. “Mumbaicha Raja” ( Ganesh Galli in South Central Mumbai) has erected a magnificent set of the Raigad Fort, the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Konkan region.
In Pune, the largest Ganpati idol in Tulshibaug Pune stands at 15ft. The “Dagdusheth Ganpati Mandir”, “Tambadi Jogeshwari”, and “Kasba Ganpati Mandir” have decked up to celebrate the festival. The Kasba Ganpati Mandir deity is the presiding deity in Pune city, also referred to as “Gramdaivat”. Due to recent arrests of some ISIS terrorists from Kothrud, the police have installed additional CCTVs to keep watch on suspicious-looking persons.
In Neighbouring Goa, most households celebrate the festival for five days. In several places, including Panjim, Quepem, and Madgaon, local mandals have organised community celebrations, and huge idols have been placed in traditionally decorated Pandals.
In Hyderabad, the “Khairatabad Ganeshotsav Samiti” has installed a colossal 63 feet clay Ganesh idol along with the clay idols of “Sri Veerabhadra Swamy” and “Sri Panchamukha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy” painted with organic colours.
The Ganeshotsav of the Marathi Sonar (Goldsmith) community in Srinagar in Kashmir is celebrating its silver jubilee this year. Earlier, this community used to celebrate the Ganeshotsav festival at home. But for the past 24 years, they have had a public celebration at the Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple in Lal Chowk, in which even the local Muslim communities participate in large numbers.
Delhi and Uttar Pradesh
In Pitampura, in North Delhi, the festival is being celebrated on a grand scale. A couple of other Mandals, including the Maharashtra Sadan Ganesh Mandal, are also celebrating the Ganesh festival as usual. Similarly, huge idols have been installed at Park Avenue and Chinmaya Mission in Noida (Uttar Pradesh).