Lord Ganesha who is considered to be the god of wisdom, prudence and prosperity has been worshipped right from the Vedic times. Every religious ceremony is completed even today with invoking his blessings at the very beginning with the solemn recitation of “Om Ganeshaya Namaha” (I bow to Thee Lord Ganesha).
The Temple of Ganapatipule becomes the centre of grand activity for the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi when villagers and pilgrims join actively in a procession honouring Ganapati. A taller idol is placed in an ornate palanquin and carried on the shoulders of the devotees through the village accompanied by a priest and a drummer. The idol in the sanctum is placed in a way that also makes it visible. The Swayambhu Ganapati Temple is one of the most famous pilgrimage centres.
In Pune, Ganesh festival is being celebrated since the days of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire. Later on, the Peshwas participated in this festival, as Ganesh was their family deity. With the end of the Peshwa regime this festival lost its glamour and came to be observed privately in households only. Thus many years passed.
Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, mobilised people through public Ganesh Utsav which was until then confined to the homes of the people and palaces of Maharajas. His motive was to unite people and strengthen the patriotic fervour in Indians. Hindus came together for the festival which became a source of political awakening against the British regime. People forgot their caste and creed to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi
Today this festival is the most colourful and joyful event in the religious, social and cultural life of India, especially that of Pune.Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with pomp and gaiety, especially in Pune. Pune has its own tradition of Ganesh Festival. Head to Kasbapeth to have a darshan of Kasba Ganpati, the patron deity of Pune. Kasba Ganpati leads the immersion procession on the last day of the festivities. Saras Baug is another must visit temple in Pune. Shreemant Dagduseth Halwai Ganpati is another popular Ganesha shrine in Pune that is a must visit during Ganesh utsav. Every Punekar is sure to understand the magic of Ganesh Chaturthi, at the Dagdu Sheth temple. The most famous attraction of the Pune is the Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir.
Mumbai becomes very lively and enthusiastic during the festival with devotional songs, dances and drum beats. Pandals across Mumbai are known to thematically represent the current social issues that the city faces through tableaux, paintings and decorations. While you are in Mumbai, head to the Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Samiti Mandal at Wadala to have a darshan of the richest Ganesha in Mumbai. Your trip would be incomplete without a visit to Lalbaughcha Raja. Unlike other Ganeshas, Lalbaugcha Raja is not a shrine but a community organised festival. Huge crowds come to visit Lord Ganesha and at times it takes over 20 hours to reach the idol.The tallest Ganesha and the richest in the world is kept at the GSB Seva Mandal Tentat Krida Mandir.
Head to popular Ganesh temples – Panchamukha Heramba Ganapati Temple, Shri Jambu Ganapati Temple and Ananthanagar Ganapati Temple. Catch the immersion spectacle at Sankey Tank and Ulsoor Lake.
The most important and almost the national festival for Goan’s is the Ganesh Chaturthi known as ‘Chovoth’.
The festivities run into several days, but minimum at least for two and half days, when puja of Gouri and Mahadev along with Ganapati, is performed.
On the Chovoth day, in the morning or evening, a clay idol of Ganapati is brought home. Before that a matov (a small pandal above the place where the idol is place) is prepared with bunches of betel nut, coconut, bananas and branches of mango-trees being necessary ingredients of it. On the second day, in the evening or at night, after performing the uttar puja of the image of Ganapati, it is taken in procession and immersed into a water body be it the sea, creek, river, lake or well. Before the idol is removed from its stand for immersion, it is besought for the welfare of the household and its members.On Panchami (fifth) day, in the evening, crowds of people move around the village to have a look at Ganapati. Some houses keep Ganapati for five, seven or nine days and rarely up to Anant Chaturdashi
One of the largest Ganesh idols in the world is set up at Khairtabad in Hyderabad. The construction of the idol takes anywhere between 3 to 4 months. If you are in Hyderabad on the 11th day of the festival, head right to Hussain Sagar Lake to watch procession and final ‘visarjan’.
Celebrations in Chennai might not be as grand as in Mumbai, but they are a treat to watch nevertheless. Across Chennai, locals set up Ganesha statues and the celebrations at Marina Beach are a must-see.