Praise Lord ‘Gajanana’

Well, the city of dreams appears to be all geared up for another festive experience. With only 7 days more for Ganesh Chathurthi, the crowds have already begun decking up the city. Lights, music and gigantic idols of the elephant god continue to capture the attention of many across the city. It is interesting to note how one of the most cosmopolitan and commercialised cities of the country still keeps up the spirit of this age old festival. Ganesh Chathurthi is unique to Maharashtra. The ten-day long festival is celebrated in the grandest ways possible every single year. Roads remain jam-packed. Flower stalls are crowded and the music plays till late night.

Festivals are symbolic of a community, region, and religion too. No matter how comemrcialised a city might be, the native festivals often reflect the true colours of the residents of the place. In my view, Ganesh Chathurthi is extremely community bound and often dominated by the middle-class community. From the construction of the idols to its immersion, the festival is representative of the Maharashtrian community. Everybody is invariably involved in the celebrations. Perhaps the concept of the “show must go on” is applicable even such situations. Apart from the schools, institutions and certain offices being shut, and shopping being at its peak, the occasion is an opportunity to meet people and also socialise. Even history supports this notion of the festival. The tales of the Lalbaugcha Mandal does clarify the details regarding the spirit of the festival.

The Lalbaugcha Raja being the limelight of the event of the Ganesh festival in Mumbai. Established in the year 1934, the celebrations at the Lalbaugcha Raja mandal are said to be the most popular of the city’s Ganesh Chathurthi celebrations.

The Mandal was a forum to motivate and awaken the people of India to fight against the British Rule. In 1934, a group of people had pushed for the construction of the present Lalbaug Market after the Peru Chawl mark had shut down in 1932. It was then that the fishermen and vendors, who would sit in the open,  vowed to Lord Ganesh for a permanent place in the market. Their wishes were fulfilled and on 12th Sept. 1934 the fisherman and the traders had established this idol. The idol is believed to have the power to fulfill all your wishes and is thus a symbol of good fortune too.

Initially, the idol adorned the outfit of a fisherman. But today it is represented as the God of all people, hailing from all sections of the society. Interestingly, the idol was made to resemble freedom fighters during the struggle for independence. In fact, in 1948, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the Lalbaugcha Raja resembled Mahatma Gandhi. The number of people visiting the mandal appears to be increasing with each passing year.

The festival ends after a period of 10 days, the final day being the VISARJAN. This is the day when the idols of Lord Ganesha are immersed in a water body after being worshiped.

So what can we expect this time? I would say more fun, music, celebrations, and most of all – never ending traffic jams- This is Aamchi Mumbaiyya after all !!!

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