India- a country with so much diversity, innumerable languages, customs and festivals, is on the ‘must visit’ list of every traveler across the globe. Each occasion here is like a colossal carnival that gets hearts to involve and sync with the traditions. Amongst the many exuberant festivals, there are a few special ones that not only the locals await but are graciously celebrated in several other countries. The Ganpati festival (one of the most popular festivals of India)- a ten-day fête is one such annual event that fills lives up with fervor and zest.
About the festival
The Ganesh Festival is celebrated to express devotion to Lord Ganesha. It has been celebrated at domestic level since times unknown, but it was during the pre-independence era of India, that it was declared as a public event. This paved a way for freedom fighters to unite people and strengthen bonds; to convey messages and build unity amongst people. And believe it or not, to date, that is exactly what happens during Ganesh festival.
It begins with welcoming the ornamented idols of ‘Lord Ganesh’ in our homes and public pandals which is then followed by religious ceremonies, musicals, short plays, drum processions, competitions and a galore of entertainment. But, the great God of wisdom also has duty calls. So, on the visarjan day after all the crazy celebrations, it’s time to say goodbye to the Lord by immersing the idol in water with a grand farewell marking the end of the festival.
Unlike most other India festivals, the Ganesh festival is not bound to one particular place but does remain eminent with areas with people from Maharashtra. Every city, every village with roots connected to Maharashtra rejoice in its charms and colors. Although cities like Pune and Mumbai are amongst the few places that have become the ultimate destination to witness the festive extravaganza.
The city of Mumbai known for its undying will, demonstrates the same enthusiasm during this festival. It’s the city that never sleeps and celebrates also in that manner. Showcasing unmatched energy, the city is adorned with innumerable Ganpati stalls, each decorated uniquely in a different theme. The highlight of the Ganesh festival in Mumbai has to be the ‘Visarjan’ procession that ends at the astounding sea edge of the city. It is an experience of a lifetime where the air is filled with the divine hymns and the beats of the drums along with thousands of people singing, dancing and playing with colors! City life, however comes to a standstill as it’s a declared public holiday.
Like Mumbai, Pune also prepares itself with exceptional eagerness to welcome Lord Ganesh each year. The energy of the festival is just too contagious and it sets everything in a motion. You can experience, people with elated spirits, colorful stalls, lip-smacking delicacies and magic in the air; all at one place! It is all the same, yet very different here than in Mumbai. The specialty of Pune is also in watching hundreds and thousands of citizens enroll at ‘Dhol Tasha Pathaks’- groups that play harmonized drums in the honor of the Lord, performing with unparalleled gusto. They spend over a month to practice for this and the result is breathtaking and overwhelming.
Like any other Ganesh temple, the celebrations here are an absolute treat to your eyes. But here the sea poses as an endearing enchantress in the backdrop of the temple. There are several beachside retreats which would allow you to end your vacation in serenity after the festive hustle and bustle.
Ashta Vinayak Ganpati
The Ashta Vinayak temples are a group of 8 Ganpati temples spread across Maharashtra where the idols of the lord are believed to be self-manifested. You possibly can not find a better place to be a part of Ganesh Utsav than to visit these 8 places over ten days. Besides the gorgeous decorations and free-spirited people, there’s this pure unconditional connection one can feel towards the lord.
THINGS TO DO?
Moving around the city while it is still prepping up for the big show is altogether different experience. You will find idols being sculpted, markets adorned with the décor items and people whose hearts are filled with warmth.
- One can make their own eco-friendly Idols and decorate Lord Ganesh’s abode too.
- To simply experience the whole festival, get a feel of every little element and ease into its vibe is amazing! It is a festival where no one would mind being an observer.
- As the entire city turns into a showcase arena, step out in prime times and preferably walk around the famous installation. Take a tour through the city and treat your eyes.
- Who doesn’t love the festival delicacies? This is the time where no food lover would be disappointed. So, eat, pray and repeat!
- Attending the processions especially the ‘visarjan’ processions which is the best part of the festival. The streets come alive where people perform traditional dances, songs and play with colors.
- With the security beefed up by local police, it’s absolutely safe most of the times but it’s advisable to move around with locals and without any valuables.
So, what are you doing this Ganpati season? Post this on your plans on Yoin and see who all from your tribe are up for such an incredible experience. On Yoin, you could also post the itinerary with do’s and don’ts so those interested can be completely geared up for it.