Celebrate the festival of Ganesh, Mumbai’s favourite god. While the mighty Lord sits majestically on his vahan, thousands of Mumbaites busy themselves anointing him.
Who will make the biggest and best Ganesh idol this year? Will the Lalbaug Ka Raja score again? Which mandal will attract the longest queue? The competition hots up. Ganesh Chaturthi heralds days of joy, reverence and festivities in Mumbai.
Early in September, on the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapad, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated. Months earlier, thousands of clay idols of Lord Ganesh are made in Mumbai. To many Mumbaites, the festival offers an alternate source of income as they get down to the task of sculpting clay Ganesh idols. Ajay Bandekar, who has a sandwich and fruit juice stall in Prabhadevi, changes his profession to sculptor from July to September.
A Ganesh idol can cost anywhere between Rs 100 for a palm-size idol to thousands of rupees for large idols. Even with the escalating prices of the clay idols, the number of orders each year only increase, giving rise to more artists and more factories.
The renowned patriot Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak initiated this community Ganesh festival in 1892. He recognised its appeal amongst India’s vast population, and used it to create a public festival and thereby propogate the struggle for independence.
A number of exhibitions in the city showcase both traditional and unique forms of abstract idols. The World Trade Centre has an exhibition-cum-sale of some of the best collections every August. Ganapathy Darshan displays a collection of unique wood and stone carvings and traditional bronze icons at the Sachivalaya Gymkhana opposite the Mantralaya.
Women get busy making steamed modaks (sweets made from flour and stuffed with coconut and sugar) and other festive dishes.
The Ganesh idols are immersed on the second, fifth, seventh or 11th day (Ananta Chaturdashi), or the day preceding the full moon day of Bhadrapad, which brings one phase of the Chaturmaas festive season to an end.
Amidst picturesque processions, with the rhythm of bells and drums, the Ganesh idols are immersed by midnight.
And Mumbai waits for the excitement to return next year. . . .