The most awaited festival for the Marathi community - Ganesh Chaturthi, has arrived, and the unveiling of Lalbaug Cha Raja this year has undoubtedly, added to their energy. We talked to a few people from the community who shared their memorable moments from the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi.
As the two-year-long COVID restrictions came to a halt this year in Maharashtra, the festivals are being celebrated in a much more energetic mode in the state, and the arrival of Ganesh Chaturthi will advocate the fact. On this occasion, the Marathi community, which observes grand celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi every year, opened up about their rituals, customs, and memorable moments from the festivals.
'When my father used to take me to pandals'
Growing up in a Marathi community, especially in Pune, Ganesh Chaturthi has always been a day to meet and have fun with the entire family. Ten days of roaming around the streets and feeling the positive vibe and the complete fun energy enveloping the city was enthralling to experience. As kids, we used to go to our aunt’s place for the Ganpati celebration, which meant getting to experience every aspect of the festivities first-hand, including picking up “durva” (grass offered to Lord Ganesha) from the garden to help out in the family kitchen, where everyone had a role to play.
For us, Ganpati has always been about community fun and calling all our friends and family over. Though Bappa is at our place for just a day and a half, we make sure the fun is worth ten days. The meals are when the whole family sits down and enjoys themselves together. And an absolute tradition for me growing up, which we missed in the three years of the pandemic, is the "Visarjan Miravnook." Dancing on "Dhol Tasha" in the crowd and soaking in the energy of the entire place is our absolute favourite.
However, the best and most memorable moment for me will always be the time when my father used to take me around the entire city to see the displays of every Mandal. I have a strong memory of sitting on my father's shoulders as a kid and moving around in the sea of people in the Peth area of Ganpati mandals, where taking a vehicle was not feasible.
- Aditya, Pune, Maharashtra
Taking 21 modaks to the distant pandals barefoot
The beginning of the festival is marked by decorations in my family. We do not just wait for this festival the whole year but also plan for Ganpati's "aagman" (arrival) at our home. We bring the idol on our heads. During these ten days, my family organizes "Jagratas" and various other musical and dance programs, and we enjoy ourselves together with friends and family members.
Since 2016, I have been capturing the celebrations at various pandals. However, my favourite pandals have been 'Chinchpokli Cha Chintamani' and 'Raja Mira Bhayandar Cha,' and I do not miss going to these places every single year. I visited these even during the last two COVID years. Although there were no big celebrations, the devotees had established small-level idols and pandals. This shows our love for Ganpati.
I follow a ritual of taking 21 homemade "modaks" to 'Chinchpokli Cha Chintamani' every year, that too, barefoot. Living in Vasai, it is challenging to cover the long distance up to Chinchpokli, but my love for "Bappa" provides me with strength and courage.
-Himanshu Satish Patil, Vasai, Maharashtra
'Bigger societies can never match the celebrations of Ganpati at Chawls'
Being a wedding photographer now, I can not forget how this festival was a pioneer in my photography journey. Ganesh Chaturthi was the first ever event I had captured as a friend of mine had brought his camera on this occasion. I did not look back after that. Currently, I have a successful career. I owe everything to Bappa.
Residing in Lalbaug, I have witnessed some of the unforgettable celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi since childhood. There is a different and pleasant vibe surrounding the entire area during the festival, and these ten days are extremely cheerful for the Marathi community.
We bring Ganpati a day before in our chawl, and the excitement of the residents knows no boundaries after that. Unlike the big societies, we do not have to inform each other about the arrival of Bappa and the full function; instead, the chawl residents come down singing and dancing to see Ganpati. We also make a separate group of social media sites to remain in contact with each other and the developments in the pandal.
Not just the "Lalbaug Cha Raja" is a global name now but also our sculptors of Lalbaug, whose Ganpati idols have been sent to Australia for the last few years. We have heard about it and feel incredibly proud of our local artisans.
- Sanket Shivaji Ghadi, Mumbai, Maharashtra