Ganeshotsav or Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India and specifically in Western India with great zeal.
Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and is revered as a Vigna harta or a remover of obstacles.
Mumbaikars love Ganpati , from the common man to the biggest bollywood artist to the most crooked politician everyone goes to pray to Siddhivinayak for making their Navas(request).
The Sarvajanik(public) Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated with great zeal in Mumbai and Pune, thanks to a tradition dating back to 1893 when the lord came to Lokmanya Tilaks aid to break the British ban on public gathering, excluding of course for religious purpose.
Everyone knows someone who has a Ganpati at home or in his or her chawl.This is the time for bonding and renewing family ties, meeting friends and relatives getting together and having a rollicking good time, a time when salwar wearing aunties suddenly change attire and go traditional in nau waris and saat wari sarees to go mandal hopping with friends, family and kids in tow.
While Mumbais Ganesh idols are known for their size and show, the Puneris are practical and have a tradition of having small idols with beautiful decoration and detailing.
The Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Sarvajanik Ganpati in Pune is one of the oldest Sarvajanik Ganpati Mandal in the country.
Mumbais Sarvajanic Ganesh mandal heartland lies in the labyrinth of gallis and chawls in Girgaum and Khetwadi to Tardeo right upto the mill areas of Dadar, Lalbaug and Chinchpokli.
Keshavji Naik Chawl Ganeshotsav Mandal, in the Girgaon remains the oldest mandal with 113+ years behind it, the Khetwadis multiple galli(bylane) Ganpatis are also worth a visit . There is also the Tulsiwadi Mandals Ganpati.
A visit to the very traditional and bejewelled Ganpati at the Gsb Mandal at Kingcircle in Matunga and at Wadala organised by the Goud Saraswats is a must. This is no doubt one of the best organised Ganesh mandals. Konkanis including many of Mumbai’s prominent hoteliers indeed celebrate their Chowthi festival in style.
Lastly how can one forget the mill heartland of Mumbai like Cotton Green Chinchpokli and well known Lalbaugs famous Ganpatis – the giant sized Ganesh galli Ganpati and Lalbaugcha Raja (Lalbaugs King) whose pandal is thronged by devotees in massive numbers and is comparable to the Siddhivinayak Ganpati in terms of faith, riches and queues of the faithful.
The LalbagchaRaja according to tradition is a wish (Navas) granting deity, and was first established after the local kolis (fisherfolk) wish for having their own land in that locality was realised. He is the last Ganpati to be immersed in the waters at the Girgaum Chowpatty and the procession generally starts at 10.30 am at Lalbaug and reaches Chowpatty at close to dawn next morning. The procession is a must see and from personal experience id say is a truly memorable event.The atmosphere gets electric and it is difficult to describe the dedication of the volunteers, and the kind of passion and devotion on the faces of people.
Ganeshotsav promotes social harmony and getting together and fortifying relations for busy Mumbaikar s. Most reputed mandals use the money collected in social causes like educating the needy and give social assistance to some.
Now to spell out some of the negatives
Proliferation of mandals each with their speaker blaring popular film music, breaking laws freely and bursting banned crackers like rassi bombs, Using Coercion in some rare instances to extract donations.
Blatent abuse of electricity to light up pandals all through the night & Electricity Theft by some small rogue mandals.
Environmental pollution POP idols and Chemical Paint, use of materials like Thermo col in large quantities for decoration, rampant use of plastic.
Also rampant Noise and Light Pollution
Update Chk out Ganesh Visarjan post for the latest pics.