- Interested in knowing about the making of Ganpathi idols? head here.
- Curious to learn about the worship, festivities and themes of Ganpati, click here.
- And about the grandeur of farewell, read on….
The 10 days long festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which marks the birth of Lord Ganpati came to an end on 23rd September 2018. This is one festival wherein the arrival of the idol, a 10 day long stay as well as the last day’s farewell to the Lord is celebrated with equal fervour. Ganpati Visarjan/farewell happens generally after one and half days or the 3rd day, 5th day or the 7th day – most of the idols being from the residences or smaller pandals. But the idols from the sarvajanik (public) pandals are bid farewell on the 10th day of the festival. Across the length and breadth of Mumbai, the visarjan procession takes place in a huge manner. It is in the heart of old Mumbai, one gets to see mammoth idols of the Vighnaharta on the streets during the farewell procession. Lower Parel, in Mumbai, is one such place where a sea of devotees throng towards the main road to get a glimpse of ‘Mumbai cha Raja’ and the most popular ‘Lalbagh cha Raja’ idol makes a splendid entry, before proceeding for immersion.
The silent road of Lower Parel gathers steam as the day progresses and within no time thousands of devotees occupy each and every centimetre of the road. The idols from around the locality are taken in procession along the main road and finally reach the Girgaum Chowpaty for immersion. Each and every corner of the street echoes the chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya.
The security is the main concern and it is always given the top priority. The presence of the Police personnel can be felt even in each and every crossroad. The street vendors add to the colours of the roads. Amidst all the chaos, as per the mahurat, the idols start emerging on the streets from the pandals. This year the first Idol to catch my attention was the ‘Mumbai cha Raja’, which was already surrounded by a massive crowd. Accepting all the offerings in the form of garlands and flower shower, the Idol marched ahead amidst loads of music and chants by the devotees.
The next stop was at the main entrance of the ‘Lalbagh Cha Raja’. Being the most popular Idol of Mumbai, it is but natural that the entire media (print and electronic media) had already gathered there. Well barricaded entrance and beefed up security kept the crowd under control. It was an hour-long wait before the resplendent idol of the lord emerged around 12.25 pm, from the narrow street to give a grand darshan to all those people who had assembled there.
Emotionally charged atmosphere, Gulal being thrown in the air as the idol stands in the main entrance, a heady music of the cymbals and trumpets and a young troupe of volunteers breaking into instant chants of Ganpati bappa Morya and dancing in the barricaded corridor, is a scene to be witnessed in person to understand the energy around. The procession moves ahead at very slow pace and the idol generally reaches late in the night at Chowpaty for immersion.
At this point, it is imperative that I acknowledge the help and guidance extended by Ace photographer/journalist Mr. Pradeep Dhivar, Mid Day, Mumbai. Even while he was on his duty, he graciously accommodated and helped me with the locations, routes and possible places for getting the images of the procession and immersion.
One can stand all the day at one place on the street and get to see quite a few idols during the farewell procession. By evening, all the action shifts to the beaches of Mumbai. A popular place to watch the massive idols which arrive in style for immersion would have to be Girgaum Chowpaty. But people also visit Juhu beach, Malad Marve beach, Powai Lake, Bandstand promenade, Versova beach, Worli sea face and a few other places in suburbs.
It was by 2 pm that I travelled towards Marine drive to avoid the rush in the local train. Hot sun, tired feet (after all the walk and wait and standing from the morning), humid weather and a dehydrated body, did not help my cause of spending another few hours at Girgaum Chowpaty. But this was my first attendance at the beach for the Visarjan event. Hence the excitement took care of the other minor complaints. An hour’s rest in the shade did some magic. I was up on my feet and was already scouting the beach.
A very interesting and a special sight was the aarti of the Ganesh idol – This one from Thailand. It instantly grabbed the attention of many a visitors on the beach. A troupe of about 15 members (all dressed in saffron kurtas), had brought the Ganpati idols from Thailand for visarjan at Girgaum chowpaty. The aarti was being conducted by a gentleman and the entire team had joined him in singing the bhajan. Each member did the aarti to the idols and was completely involved in the pooja. Devotion towards this deity Gajanana extends beyond borders or religion.
As I walk along the beach, the sun begins to descend and the crowd expands. The idols make a beeline towards the sandy beach, some in queue one after the other and few making their own path and occupying a big patch of the beach. Colourful as they are, each one of those idols looked amazingly beautiful. The kind of creativity that goes into making these idols and also the investment of time, money and energy seemed to be mind-boggling. It was a feast for both my eyes and camera!
Cotton cha Raja, Paral cha Raja, Mumbai cha Raja and many other idols enter the arena and wait for their turn to enter the sea. With the last round of aarti and pooja offered, the devotees take the idols towards the sea and bid farewell. The entire beach reverberates with the chanting of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudchya varshi lavkar ya’ (Oh Lord Ganpati, return fast again next year)!
As I walk back, one thing that plays on my mind is, what next? The idols are immersed in the sea. The next inevitable sight will have to be the broken idols and all the plastic and other garbage washed out on to the beach!