It is a well-known fact that Mumbai never sleeps; it becomes especially true around Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesh Chaturthi is to Mumbai what Christmas is to the world. Around August-September, the entire city gets its celebration mode on. You will find people dancing in the streets of Mumbai all night; it truly is a spectacular site. Huge statues depicting Ganesha in different forms, are rigged up all through the city and then submerged in the sea with a huge celebration and gaiety. Here are five facts about Mumbai and Ganpati.
1) Historical Significance
It is said that it was the great Maratha king, Shivaji who initiated this festival. Shivaji wanted to unite his fellow countrymen in a spirit of patriotism and cultural harmony. The zeal, which Shivaji displayed for the celebration of the festival, was contagious. Since then his subjects immediately took a liking to the celebration and the custom was passed on from one ruler to the next. Finally the festival became an important public festival of Maharashtra state after it was revived by Lokmanya Tilak.
2) The Tradition
According to tradition, Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebration of the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, who is believed to be ‘the remover all obstacles’. Lord Ganesha is the patron saint of Maharashtra and the entire celebration lasts for about ten days. An idol of the god is installed in individual homes and larger versions in communities. There are short and long ritualistic periods during which the idol is worshipped during entire festive phase starting from a one-day pooja ritual to a 11-day one that includes the chanting of shlokas and hymns.
This is followed by the submersion of the idol in the water. This process is called visarjana. It is believed that the Lord returns to his heavenly abode after ten days.
3) The Celebrations
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is a time for celebration. The city comes to a standstill with celebrations everywhere. You would be amazed at the intensity of the crowds in Mumbai. They certainly live up to the reputation of being denizens of a city that never sleeps. There is music and dance and the one can savor modaks, a special milk-based sweet preparation for the Lord.
4) The Intensity
Mumbaikars really believe in ‘large-scale’ when it comes to Ganpati and the celebrations. It is estimated that over ten thousand idols are made and submerged in the waters, and for a city like Mumbai it means managing traffic since hundreds of processions with Ganesh idols of varying sizes, pass through the roads of Mumbai. Some are gigantic, reaching incredible heights and are truly a worthwhile sight. Ganesh Chaturthi means freedom and love. Everybody is joyous and hospitable. Don’t forget the modaks, which happen to be Lord Ganesh’s favorite sweet.
5) Farewell to the Lord
The festival ends with the ritual of visarjana or submersion. Thousands of people carry the Ganesh idols to the sea or any water-body. There is food, dancing and music. Celebrities and common people can be seen mingling around Ganpati and it is generally a fun time for all. The idols are submerged and the people chant, asking the Lord to return sooner the next year. Mumbai is a very resilient city. Ganesh Chaturthi is the best time to witness this celebration of life in the city.