Mumbai celebrates Ganesh festival

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MUMBAI: Mumbai on Wednesday welcomed its favourite elephant-headed Lord Ganesh as the 10-day Ganpati festival began here amid tight security.

The 'aarti' and 'sthapan puja' (devotional worship) were held in various pandals (associations) to mark the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Millions of Mumbaikars remained awake through the night making last minute preparations for the installation of gigantic, medium and small idols of Lord Ganesh in different public venues, housing complexes and homes.

Since last week, over 300,000 big and small idols started arriving in the city from artists' studios in different parts of Mumbai and Raigad.

Over 12,500 registered associations, apart from the 40,000 private housing complexes, have been preparing for the past few weeks for the popular festival.

The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the city, the entire coastal Konkan region and Pune, said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president of Mumbai Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samavaya Samiti (BSGSS).

While a majority of the gigantic idols were installed last week in different marquees to enable decoration before being unveiled Wednesday, the small idols started arriving since Tuesday evening.

Some of the public mandals have erected the idols with thematic presentations replicating the likes of famous Dilwara temple of Rajasthan, Nepal's Pashupatinath temple or Bikaner's Laxmi Vilas Palace.

Mumbai celebrates Ganesh festival - The Times of India
Lord Ganesha overrides potholes and prices in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Price rise and potholes forgotten, the arrival of Maharashtra's biggest festival of Ganeshotsav on Wednesday will spread cheer among lakhs of Mumbaikars who dearly love the elephant-headed god. Over the next 10 days, households and mandals alike will celebrate the deity who has a gentle demeanour and sharp wit, whose invocation at the start of any new venture is a guarantor of success.

Since the past weekend, shoppers have been thronging bazaars to make last-minute purchases of decorations and sweets. Even as big and small 'moortis' are brought home before the actual festival, the 'pran pratishtha' ceremony takes place on the morning of Ganesh Chaturthi.

Pt Ravindra Nagar, acharya of the Birla Mandir in New Delhi, says, "Lord Ganesh is the 'agra poojya', worshipped before everybody else. He is the 'bhadr' (gentle) god who was born in the month of Bhadrapad. Other gods grant wealth and luck but Ganpati is the god of intelligence." Across north India, people installed the idol of Goddess Parvati in their homes and temples on Tuesday. "After all, the mother arrives before her son," the priest says.

Pt Nagar points out that the Ganesh idol is traditionally crafted from gold, silver, copper, 'ashtadhatu' (a combination of eight metals) or clay. "Plaster of paris is popular because it is a sturdier version of clay, although it is not the best material to use. One cannot use worship as a pretext to pollute the beautiful world that Lord Ganesh has created," he says.

An indescribable mix of tranquillity and excitement pervades the household during the short period that god arrives as guest. Advocate Subhash Pradhan, who lives in Dadar, is president of the Shree Udyan Ganesh temple of Shivaji Park. "We wait all year for this one day that we bring the deity home. It feels as if the house turns into a shrine by his hallowed presence," he says. "In fact, our Shivaji Park temple used to host a full calendar of bhajans, kirtans and cultural programmes each year during Ganeshotsav before the area was declared a silence zone."

Apart from Shivaji Park, the Ganpati temples at Titwala and Siddhivinayak draw huge crowds over the festival. Deputy CEO of Siddhivinayak temple, Satish Mali, says, "Several families that install Ganpati stop by the temple to seek blessings before they take the idol home. Those who visit pandals at Lalbaug or GSB also make it a point to include Siddhivinayak on their itinerary. The temple also hosts an idol of the 'parthiv Ganesh' during the festival so that tends to draw visitors as well."

Most families opt to host the idol for the duration of one-and-a-half day given that nuclear families and work schedules preclude the possibility of leisurely, elaborate celebrations. Around 1.2 lakh household Ganpatis will be immersed in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai on Thursday, and this is the reason some political parties are unwilling to support the concurrent bandh call against price rise.

Understandably, devotees feel a pang of regret as they immerse their beloved god in rivers and water bodies at the close of celebrations. Pt Nagar explains this ritual saying, "Of the five elements in nature, Lord Ganesh presides over water. So it is as if he returns home upon 'visarjan'. He is made of clay which dissolves and becomes one with Nature. Also by immersion, we request the lord to shower his bounty over the rest of the world as he has blessed us. 'Visarjan' makes the worshipper humble because he is letting go of something he loves so dearly."

Lord Ganesha overrides potholes and prices in Mumbai - The Times of India
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