Waiting, making and immersion — every phase is passing day by day, thousands of Ganesha statues are on the streets of Mumbai during the festival for devotees to participate in the prayers and take blessings. On the second day of Ganesh Chaturthi, a huge street procession involving singing and dancing was held with many Ganesha idols taken to the sea to be immersed. The custom of placing the idol of Lord Ganesha has been performed in various places of the city where a temporary porch with a stage has been erected to worship the Ganesha for the rest of the days till its final Visarjan. Ganesha’s idols were offered ladoos, flowers, and other offerings in the form of Prasad. All Ganesha pandals have witnessed a large number of devotees lined up to seek glimpses of their beloved Ganesha. A big pandal is constructed at the Clock Tower area to celebrate the 10 days of the Ganesha Festival. The ornamented and brightly coloured idol weighs around 150 kg and is placed at a height of 6.5 feet. Arranging events for the 10 long days is another big deal with all the Ganesha organisers — beautiful themes, decorations, Prasad, offerings, chanting — the whole city is in festive look; on the other side, the police patrolling is frequent, everywhere the atmosphere is like police camps. There are many such local travellers and for them, this event is like any other 10 days.
Keeping up with the tradition of Ganeshotsav, several politicians in Maharashtra, including Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis, celebrated the festival by installing Ganesha idol in his home. Taking a break from his hectic schedule, the CM conducted a ‘puja’ of ‘Lord Ganesha’, along with his family members at his official residence ‘Varsha’ in the posh Malabar Hill area in south Mumbai. Many other celebrities too installed the idol of the Elephant-headed God at their homes. Mumbai’s famous Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal witnesses a heightened security, an increased insurance, and the high-end sponsorships. Ganesh Chaturthi, the beginning of the biggest festival in Maharashtra and Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the most popular mandals attracting around one crore devotees, including film stars and politicians, following which tight arrangements have been made. To ensure a safe festival, the security is enhanced, they have deployed hundreds of private guards. The CCTV cameras have been increased from 35 to around 70 — also, there are metal detector door frames and handheld detectors. Besides police security, they also have thousands of volunteers around. To greet the Raja, people have to walk through several barricades and when they reach the final destination, molestations and manhandling are inevitable. After walking and waiting for hours, you are thrown out the moment you open your eyes to see the most awaited Ganesha.
Well! Chants of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ rent the air as lakhs of Mumbaikars bid farewell to their favourite deity. People sing bhajans and offer prayers amid bursting of crackers and beating of drums. The devotees are feasted on favourite delicacies like ‘karanji’ and ‘modak’. Ranging in different sizes and shapes, the idols of Lord Ganesha were taken out of the house across Mumbai after the traditional pooja. Some went on the next day of the Ganesh Chaturthi, others on the 5th day and most of them on the 9th and the rest of them will go on the 11th day. Most of these Ganeshas were of families, who invited the lord for a day in their home and with a heavy heart took him for immersion. Roads blocked, heavy traffic, loud music for the whole night, overcrowded seashores — the whole Mumbai was moving with music and colours.
This year, 1, 91,000 idols were installed across the city out of which 10,350 are at Ganesh Mandals (associations) and 1, 80,650 at individual households. Meanwhile, the crackers and beating of drums with sprinkling of gulal will mark the 11th day of the Ganesha festival. More than 1,000 ganesh mandals installed idols in the city amid elaborate security arrangements. Bappa arrived giving Joy, Celebrations and Festive Look to the city and at the same time, he gave opportunities to many for earning extra perks, extra duties, and extra stress too— the first fare went well, may all the rest of the days pass in peace and celebrations.
The special thing to notice this year is the Ganapati celebration by the Muslims in India. In between daily news of the religion and caste-related violence, a story of communal harmony often goes unnoticed. In one of such cheering gestures of the cultural unity and brotherhood, the Hindu and Muslim communities have come together to celebrate the Ganesh Chathurthi and Muharram together in the Khadki region of Pune. After 1986, this year, both the festivals have fallen around the same time. Every year, during the Ganesh Chaturthi, the city police are on their toes to stop the communal clashes that erupt especially, on the day of Visarjan. Sparks often fly when processions pass through communally sensitive areas, resulting in bad blood between the communities. This animosity may be a truth for some years now, but the fact also remains that the pioneer of sarvajanik (public) Ganpati festival in Sanskarinagari was none other than a Muslim man, that too when he was 107-year-old. Jumma Dada was inspired by freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak to start sarvajanik Ganesh festival in Baroda. Tilak regularly visited Baroda to meet Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. He learnt about Jumma Dada. Jumma Dada had established the Vyayam Mandir in the mid-19th century and registered it in 1880. His Akhaada was very popular among the boys and girls and therefore, Tilak gave him the idea of organising the public Ganesha festival at the Vyayam Mandir. The idea was to bring youngsters together and instill a sense of patriotism among them along with the celebrations. Politicians are playing appeasement politics in the name of religion but some religious groups gave a straight message to the people that the brotherhood still remains among them. May Ganesha give more wisdom to his people and bless the nation in abundance.
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