|Chintamanni Gananayak This Year, Chinchpokli, Mumbai|
Ganapati Bappa Morya!
He is back with smiles and blessings again at homes and pandals cause it is that time of the year again!
17th September aka today is Ganesh Chaturthi which is a huge festival for Hindus, even more for West and South Indians. Yes, South! If you thought the pomp and show of this 10 days long religious festivity was only credited to Maharashtra, thing again cause the tallest Ganesh Idol and largest pandal is actually set up in Vishakhapatnam every year. But it is undoubtedly the most important festival of Maharashtra.
The history of Ganesh Chaturthi celebration goes back to the Maratha period, when Shivaji started celebrating the event with clay model of Lord Ganesha. Though the actual reason behind Ganesh Chaturthi is the birth or re-birth of Ganesha, Shivaji made this a huge festival to get the prominent chieftains of the nearby Hindu Subas and kingdoms under one flag and increase the Maratha foothold against Mughals. With time the tradition seemed to fade but was fortunately revived by Bhausaheb Laxman Javale and Lokmanya Tilak in 1894 when they organized the first ever Sarvajanin Ganesh Utsav in Pune (then Poona), again to bring Indians closer. Since then Ganesh Puja is being celebrated with grandeur across Maharashtra every year, and now across India. Oh and yes, you read it right, it is Indians! Ganesh Utsav has a very active participation from all communities and not just Hindus.
|Mumbaicha Raja, Lalbaug, Mumbai|
Kesari wada Ganesh Idol, which was set up by Lokmanya Tilak is considered to be the oldest Ganesh Utsav Mandal in India followed by Chintamani Ganesh Idol of Chinchpokli, Mumbai, though the most known one is LalBaag Cha Raja of Mumbai. Skilled artisans set up pandals months before the festival, to make thousands of Idols ranging from 1ft to 50ft. Earlier these Idols were made of clay but with time, majority of the idols now are being made of Plaster of Paris, making this festival an environmental issue as these huge idols are immersed in water bodies post the Puja (worship) is done. Due to the concerns people are now reverting back to the old ways of clay idols and also have started using bio degradable material like Paper-Mache. Hopefully soon all the idols would become environment friendly and there would be no hindrance to the festival in any way!
The festival also sees a lot of Dhol (a double header drum) players and Lazim Dancers who practice for months and flock on streets to welcome Bappa and bid adieu to the Lord during immersion possession. I haven’t really been to any other part of the state during the festival, but Mumbai sure looks livelier than ever during Ganesh Chaturthi; and that is saying a lot as Mumbai is one of those cities that never really sleeps. So if in Mumbai do not miss out on the festivities! Do visit pandals cause they are worth it.
P.S. - I really feel this is something Maharashtra/India Tourism should promote as frankly every year I am impressed by the skills of the craftsmen, the enthusiasm of people and the positive vibe of the area. This totally seems like a real celebration of life and has the potential to beat the level of any carnival!
|Guari Ganesha, Worshiped from the 3rd day to the 5th day of the Festival|