Ganesh Chaturthi Rituals
Ganesh Chaturthi is regarded as an important festival in the region of Maharashtra and is celebrated for seven to ten days when the entire state is decorated with lights. In Mumbai, on the first day of the festival, the Pooja starts with the idol being kept over a pedestal that symbolizes a throne. This is followed by a priest performing the rituals and Puja dedicated to the idol. Then, he dips the idol in holy water. Modak, a sweet made of sweetened coconut and rice flour, is then offered to the deity along with incense and flowers. For the rest of the days, the idol of worshipped with Ganesh Stuti and devotional songs in the evening and morning. People install idols of Lord Ganesh in their houses as well.
It is believed that god returns to his heavenly abode after ten days of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. The city witnesses great vigour and enthusiasm for the farewell procession in which the idol of Lord Ganesha is carried by the devotees. The procession is accompanied by lot of singers, dancers, acrobats, priests and various onlookers. Sweets, coconuts, flowers and Aarti are offered to the idol prior to immersion in the Arabian Sea. This ritual is known as 'Ganesh Visarjan' or the immersion of Lord Ganesha and the procession flock the street with the chanting, 'Ganapati Bappa Morya' (famous slogan praising Lord Ganesha). The most prominent immersion takes place on Chowpatti Beach, located at a distance of 1km from Marine Drive. During the immersion, huge crowds flock the beach to witness the grand Visarjan. These processions start in the morning and continue till late night. In addition to these, there are public celebrations known as Sarvajanik Ganeshotsava. Many community pujas or celebrations are also held in almost every locality of the city.
The origin of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai is traced back to Shivaji, the Maratha ruler. It was he who initiated the festival to instil nationalistic feelings and promote cultural harmony in his subjects. Since 1882, the festival got a fresh breath when Bal Gangadhar Tilak revived it as a perfect platform to spread the message of freedom struggle and thus resisted the British who had banned all public assemblies. People from all communities participated in it and the festival transformed into a religious as well as social function, thus playing a vital role in unifying the Indians and reviving the spirit of oneness. The festival was often used a medium to deliver motivational speeches and thus arouse people to fight against the British rule.
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most awaited festivals in Mumbai. Hope this article helps you imbibe the spirit of this festival in Mumbai.