Ganesh Festival

Come September, and India lights up with the pomp of Ganesh festival. The festival called Ganesh Chaturthi in India was started as a public festival by a freedom fighter in the city of Pune. The festival was celebrated as a private festival in every Hindu household before the Indian freedom struggle. The freedom fighter, Lokamanya Tilak, started the festival to get the people united and enjoy their culture. It was a unique move by this freedom fighter, which he achieved with the Ganpati visarjana or immersion procession, wherein the mass output of several Ganesh mandals is taken out on a parade on the final day of the Ganesh festival and taken to be immersed. This process was started in 1893 and is now prevalent virtually all over Maharashtra, with special emphasis on Mumbai and Pune. Lokmanya Tilak attached this mass celebration to increase national awareness about the Freedom movement. Herein, neighborhood Ganeshas are worshiped and brought to immersion sites, where huge crowds gather to bid him an emotional and frenzied farewell.

Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. During the Ganesha festival, a household worships a statue of Shri Ganesha. Public celebrations of the festival are hugely popular, with local communities (mandalas) vying with each other to put up the biggest idol. The festival is also the time for cultural activities like songs, dramas and orchestra.Today, the Ganesh Festival is not only a popular festival - it has become a very critical and important economic activity for Maharashtra. Many artists, industries, and businesses survive on this mega-event. Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. During the festival, people sing prayers called "bhajans" & perform rituals called Aartis. They visit the homes of their friends and relatives who have Ganesh idols at their homes. In Pune, as the sun sets over darkening rivers, the images are taken out in boats and as each one is immersed, a cry is raised asking him to return the next year. It is an emotional and public farewell to their beloved god as parthiva (of the earth), who will rise once again the following year.

This year also the festival was celebrated with great pomp. With the idol immersions process going a long long time. The processions started at 10 AM on Tuesday, ending at 5 PM on Wednesday. During the 10 day festival, the city of Pune, which was the first city to publicly celebrate this festival and processions had millions of visitors from all over India in just 10 days, not to mention millions of rupees spend in the advertisement campaigns and marketing done by huge companies to profit from this mega event.

There will be new images added to my portfolio soon, one of the richest ganesh idol in the world adorned with jewelery worth millions of dollars. Check my portfolio next week for those who are interested to see that glory.



Photo credits: Nikhil Gangavane.

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September 26, 2007


I missed the vibrant energy and fun of Ganesh festival this time, it is indeed a beautiful festival all across India.

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