“The celebration of Ganesh Festival, the revered Hindu deity ‘Shri Ganesh’ is a spectacle worth witnessing in the city. Interestingly, the concept of spreading social awareness and promoting unity through the Mandal Concept was initiated by the esteemed leader Shri Lokmanya Tilak in 1893 with a single Mandal at Girgaon Keshavji Naik Chawl.
However, the current count of Mandals has skyrocketed to 11,460 as of 2013, with most of them being commercialized and sponsored by private companies and politicians. Let us delve into the evolution of the Ganesh festival celebration in Mumbai, from its inception to the present day…”
How Ganesh Festival is Celebrated at Home
Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva, is known by many names such as Ganapati, Vigna Harta, Bappa, Vakratunda, and more. His birthday is celebrated during the festive season in September every year, where families of all castes, including Hindus and Muslims, welcome the lord in the form of idol worshiping for almost 10 days.
Individual homes celebrate and worship for the number of days they are convenient with, ranging from a minimum of 1 and a half days to 5 days and finally the 10th day of immersion. To enjoy all the immersion fun, people say “Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudchya varshi Lovkar Ya,” which means we love you, you are the great and best, and we will wait for your welcome again next year.
During these few days, homes and balconies are decorated with lights and flowers, creating a blissful environment. This festival is celebrated by almost every Hindu, as well as other castes and religions who believe in the divine blessings of Lord Ganesha.
To experience this festival at its best, one can visit any Marathi family as most rituals are done by Maharashtrians. This festival is the most celebrated compared to any other, with Hindu communities like Gujarati, Marathi, and more keeping colorful Lord Ganesha idols of all sizes and decorated themes for worship at their homes.
The Diya is kept on with oil and ghee for 24 hours, and complete decoration like lighting and small temporary foldable temples made up of thermacol are the main attractions apart from the beautiful idol. People keep the idol for 1 and a half days, 5 days, 7 days, and 10 days depending on their capabilities to serve and time they can devote to God. On the last day (Ganesh visarjan day), people chant “Ganpati bappa moriya.”
Celebration Around City
Sarvajani Ganesh Mandals are renowned in Mumbai for celebrating this festival. The city is home to Top Mandals that attract millions of devotees, as well as smaller ones in cooperative housing societies across various lanes.
These mandals are all exquisitely adorned with unique themes and decorations, and their vibrant energy can be witnessed day and night throughout the 10-day festival. The very first mandal was established by our leader Lokmanya Tilak in a small Chawl located in Girgaon’s Charni Road.
This initiative aimed to unite people and resist British rule. Since its inception in 1893, this social cause of worship has gained immense popularity. In 1953, there were 1,200 Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandals, and today, in 2013, the number has risen significantly to 11,460.
The unfortunate aspect of this expanding festival is that the city has deviated from its original purpose. As the years go by, it becomes increasingly commercialized. Throughout these ten days of celebration, the news and media channels are filled with reports of extravagant donations in crores, offerings of gold and silver, and other details such as insurance coverage for these mandals. However, despite all the commercialism, sponsors, and political banners that surround them, true devotees simply come, make their offerings, pray for health, wealth, and prosperity, and move forward. They choose to overlook all the commercial aspects and remain focused on their devotion to God.
The true highlights of these grand mandals lie in the towering height of each Ganesh idol, the intricate decorations, and the messages conveyed through various themes and embellishments. Additionally, the long queues that stretch for hours, as devotees eagerly wait for a glimpse (darshan) of the lord, add to the excitement and enjoyment of the festival.
To truly immerse yourself in the ambiance and spirit of the festival in Mumbai, explore the locations and timings that offer an authentic experience of the rituals and celebrations:
Not too far from there is GSB Seva Mandal’ss pandal, known for its opulence. They celebrate the festival in a lavish manner every year, insuring it for crores of rupees, with the insurance amount increasing from 50 crores in 2014 to 600 crores in 2023.
If you have ample time to experience the ten-day festivities, consider visiting the famous mandals (group organizers) located at various places in Mumbai.
While in Virar, the far north suburb of Mumbai and the last station on the western railway route, make sure to explore Tembhipada, a small village on Agashi Road, just after Bolinj. The village homes are adorned with special decorations and themes, making the evening celebrations a delightful sight. However, be prepared for the crowds, especially on weekends.
Although the Siddhivinayak temple is already renowned in the city, it is worth visiting during the Ganapati festival, particularly on Tuesdays, to seek the blessings of the lord. However, be aware that the temple can be crowded, and waiting in queues for hours may be necessary.
Allocate around 3 to 4 hours to visit Khetwadi Galli, which has been famous since the 1970s for its extravagant celebrations during the festival. Each of the 12 lanes (galli) showcases a unique and enormous idol, ranging up to 12 feet in height, with captivating social and fun themes that are displayed for 5 to 10 minutes. You can find videos and a picture gallery link near the image above.
Lastly, don’t miss out on exploring Dadar market, located near the station in the west.
10 Days Festival Videos
An Old Video of Ganesh Idol Immersion
More Details at Visarjan Video.
Read about Girgaon Chowpatty where Immersion is a mega event of 10th day.
Khetwadi Mandal Clip
Theme Concept Inside Pandal
See More in