The Ganapati Festival is an awaited time of the year for everyone – kids to grandparents. The divinity and grandiosity of the Ganapati Festival makes it to the bucket lists of travelers in India and abroad alike. This festival marks the celebration of the birth of the beloved elephant God – Ganapati, also known as Ganesh, Bappa and many other names. This 11-days carnival is a beautiful festival which marks pompous spectacles on the first and the last day.
Celebrated by the whole Hindu community, this festival is majorly popular in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The most spectacular celebrations to watch take place primarily in Mumbai and Pune. Visiting Mumbai during the Ganapati festival is a true delight for travelers to experience its unique warmth and festive streaks of this vibrant city.
Fondly known as the cute elephant God; Ganesh is considered as a symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom and is worshipped for new beginnings and prosperity. Every festival celebrated by a Hindu poses a first worship to this deity; he is also remembered before people undertake a new journey or venture. He is the most popular of Hindu Gods – a favourite of many too!
Although this religious festival was always celebrated in little temples of people’s homes, it became a community affair only after Lokmanya Tilak, a great freedom fighter of India shaped the traditions of Ganesh Chaturthi to make it a public annual affair of celebrations. Hence this occasion became a more popular public event from a pious religious homely one. Today, one can see huge idols placed in tents called – pandals, organized by certain ‘mandals’ – group of people. A few famous pandals are so popular that the entire city gathers up to seek blessings of the Lord here. These pandals are huge, ornately decorated with unusual themes – sometimes telling a story or giving a message, there are queues of visitors, mayhem of positivity, culture, religion, tradition and sheer joy of visiting the elephant God! A few famous ones in Mumbai are – Lalbaug cha Raja, the G.S.B Mandal’s Richest Ganapati, Girgaum cha Raja and many more. In Pune, the Dagdusheth Halwai’s Ganapati celebrations are beautiful and grand, visited by thousands of devotees.
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Visiting Mumbai during this pompous carnival can give you a burst of experiences – emotional, cultural, traditional, colourful and at the same time feel calm, serene and divine! Make sure not to miss the first and last day of this festival. The first day is celebrated with the Lord’s arrival with a lot of music, drum beats, songs, fire crackers and traditional pooja performances. While the last day has a bittersweet ending – the Lord is bid adieu with a heavy heart, but joyfully expecting his return soon the next year. The last day is known as – Visarjan day when these idols of Ganesh – whether from people’s homes or the big pandals are immersed in water – usually a lake, river or the sea. A procession takes place to take these idols to their immersion spot where the air is filled with celebratory music, songs and cries of Ganapati Bappa Morya ! The visarjan taking place at Girgaum Chowpatty is a must visit during this festival as the whole of the city’s Ganeshas say Good Bye and people return home feeling content of having served their favourite God, awaiting him the next year.