Celebrated in the honour of the beloved elephant-headed God, Lord Ganesha, Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is one of the most important festivals for the Hindus. It mainly involves the worshipping of an idol of Lord Ganesha in a temple or pandal, and at the end of the festival, the idol is immersed in water, in a process known as visarjan.
Though it’s a Hindu festival which is celebrated all over the country, certain areas and regions are more pompous in terms of celebrations. The most extravagant and elaborate ceremonies take place in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai, MaharashtraThough the Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai is celebrated with much grandeur in many parts of the country, nothing, however, comes close to the enthusiasm and the grand scale of events that takes place in Mumbai. The festival was initially introduced by the Maratha ruler Shivaji Raje in his days; however, it was the freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak who provided the impetus to make this into a public event.
The motive behind this was gathered people of all faiths to unite against the British rule. Serving its purpose, it went on to become one of Mumbai’s grandest festivals celebrated by everyone regardless of their faiths.
The local communities take much pride in organising the event and have healthy competition to outdo one another every year. Numerous communities organise their events across Mumbai on both small and large scales with more than 1, 50,000 Ganesh Visarjan happening each year. But some events surpass even the large scale and have become an institution where every year crores of devotees flock to see the idols.
There are five famous Ganesh Mandals that witness more than a million devotees each day, growing more every year. Thus Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai witnesses the grandest celebration of the elephant deity as compared to any other state or region in India.
Five must-visit places (Pandals) that make the most of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai
1. Lalbaugcha Raja (Lalbaug – Central Mumbai) Undoubtedly the most popular Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai, if the sheer size of the statue doesn’t astonish you, look at the constant line of devotees that is formed to see the idol up close. Apart from its grandeur, it is also the most revered Ganesh Mandal in Mumbai.The events are a grand affair in Mumbai, and the streets in and around are jam-packed at any time of the day; even nights are busy with people either lining up to be the first ones to see the idols once the gates open in the morning. If you’re in Mumbai around this time, irrespective of where you are heading to, you’ll run into the celebrations at almost every street of Mumbai.
2. Ganesh Galli Mumbaicha Raja (Central Mumbai)
Located near Lalbaugcha Raja, one of the oldest mandals in Mumbai, it lost its popularity to Lalbaughcha Raja in the 1990s however it still manages to pull a respectable number of crowds because of its elaborate themes of replicas of famous places in Mumbai.
3. Khetwadi Ganraj (Grigaim – South Mumbai)
Of all the famous statues, this one is considered to be the most magnificent often decked with gold and diamonds. It’s been credited of hosting the tallest Ganesh idol in the history of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai.
4. GSB Seva Ganesh Mandal (King’s Circle – Central Mumbai)
Famous for the eco-friendly statue made with clay and more than 60 kilograms of gold. The stunning the statue glittering in the festive lights is quite a sight. It is touted to be the richest Ganesh Chaturthi organisers in the city and every year; they showcase Ganesha in the most extravagant manner.
5. Andhericha Raja (Andheri)
This mandal doesn’t have a towering statue like the others; however, it is popularly reputed of fulfilling wishes of the devotees. It attracts a lot of spectators for their unique themes and carnival-like installations. This more than 50 years old pandal is famous for its celebrity guests. So, in case you wish to get a glimpse of your favourite stars, visit this place to meet and greet them.
If not out of religious reasons, visit Mumbai’s Lalbaugcha Raja at least once to see how the entire city comes together to participate in this grand public event of celebrating the stay of Lord Ganesha – rightly believed to be the destroyer of evil and restorer of goodwill.
Rituals of Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations in Mumbai
- The beginning of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is marked with bringing home a clay modelled idol of Lord Ganesha or to the elaborately decorated community pandals or tents. With soaring chants and traditional drum beats, the deity arrives at the place which would be his abode for the next 11 days.
- Once the idols are installed in the pandals, a definitive ritual of pranasthapana is done to invoke life into the idols. This is done with some ritualistic chanting of mantras.
- An offering of a variety of sweets, flowers, rice, etc. are made to the deity.
- Modak – a sweet which is believed to be a favourite of the Lord, is a popular sweet that can be found everywhere during this festival.
- The days to be followed are marked with regular morning and evening ceremonies and special events of singing religious songs, traditional dances and chanting prayers.
- For the eleven days of the festival, the idols are offered with different kinds of sweets, flowers, coconut and fruits. Special group dance, prayers and music performances take place throughout these eleven days.
The families, who host the deity, open their homes to near and dear ones to visit, and it’s a tradition not to let the guests leave empty-handed. The events hosted by the community are always open to everyone for all the eleven days. The last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is the most exciting of all. The devotees gather around the idol in large numbers to worship and pray for the last time as the idol is carried away to be immersed in water. This ritual is known as Ganesh Visarjan.
The Hindus believe that the form of things in the universe constantly changes, however the energy remains, and the immersion of the idol in water serves to them as a reminder of that. The idol decorated with flowers and fabrics is carried out of the pandals amidst a procession of devotees singing and dancing to the beats of the large drums chanting phrases in praise of the lord and urging him to come back again next year.
Every year, in Mumbai, around thousands of statues are immersed into the sea. The immersion is said to bring along the concept of the deity being figure-less and omnipresent.
Top 5 Dishes to Taste during the FestivalWhen in Mumbai during Ganesh Chaturthi festivities, you shouldn’t miss these fantastic delicacies which are often offered to Lord Ganesha as prasad.
· Modak: A kind of sweet dumpling filled with khoya or coconut, this one is believed to be Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet dish and hence, you will get these in abundance wherever you go during the festival days. You can even taste these in different types and flavours.
· Puran Poli: This is a very common breakfast dish in Mumbai. It is a kind of stuffed paratha which is filled with coconut or jaggery.
· Patholi: These are little steamed rice rolls and quite amazing to taste. Don’t miss these while you are in Mumbai.
· Srikhand: A sweet and sour yoghurt which is made with a pinch of cardamom, saffron and fruits.
· Sabudanavada: This one is a kind of fried snack which is made with boiled and mashed potato, peanuts, some specific spices and tapioca pearl.
A Few Tips for Tourists During Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai
- It is imperative to leave behind your footwear while entering a pandal or a mandala. So, you need to follow the rules in order not to offend the authorities.
- Liquor, cigarettes and non-vegetarian dishes are not allowed during this time in the places of the festivities.
- Temples and pandals are quite crowded during this time. So, you need to be extra careful with your kids. You might also have to stand in the queue for hours before entering the pandals. So, be prepared.
- During the time of the immersion, several roads will be blocked, and you might have to experience a lot of traffic. So, leave before time to reach your destination on time.
- In case you are thinking about visiting Mumbai during this time, book your tickets and stay well in advance, to avoid disappointments regarding fares and quality of hotel rooms.