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The Ganpati Festival – a slide show

September 8, 2008
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On my trip to Pune last week-end, I went Ganpati-Seeing, something I have not done for many years. I used to do it (on foot) during my college years. It was something I enjoyed, as I always loved Ganpati. Odd, isn’t it, for an agnostic like me to adore a God, but if there is one God I am partial to, it’s Ganesh. And enjoying the festival has always been more of a cultural celebration for me (rather than religious).

Walking is the most efficient way to see the elaborately decorated and lighted ganpatis as you don’t have to keep getting in and out of a car – although it notches up many (walked) kilometers. If you are a serious ganpati watcher, best to go on foot as certain parts of the city are closed to vehicles after four pm during the 10-day Ganpati Festival.

(If you want to know more about the Ganesh Festival, see note at the bottom)

Pune is not legendary for its massive Ganpati idols like Mumbai is, but it is known for its lighted Ganpatis. It is quite fascinating to watch the elaborate lighting, which is often synchronised to the music. Nowadays the police have become strict about the music though, forcing it shut down by around 10:30 at the latest. I did not get the time to visit all the ganpatis, and I know I missed the best ones, but these are slide shows of some that I saw.

First, just a few pictures to capture the atmosphere of the streets alongwith pictures of the idols and the sets which narrate stories from religious mythology. Note the presence of animals…this was something I always took for granted (the importance of animals in Hinduism), until a reader pointed it out. It made me  conscious of the fact that Hinduism has an all-encompassing nature…in Hinduism there is a place for all creatures, big and small, the weak and the powerful.

If you want to see any slide-show again, just click the tiny cross at the top right hand corner.

The next few slide shows are of the lighted Ganpatis. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did. It’s not the same without the music though!

(Note: Ganesh Festival (Ganesh Chaturthi) is celebrated on the day of Lord Ganesh’s birthday. This festival means installing the idol of Lord Ganesh in the house or in a public place (by a group), and worshipping it until the time comes for immersion. Each family immerses the idol on different days (from one and a half to ten days), according to the tradition of the family, but most public ganpatis are ready for immersion only on the 10th day.  During the way to the water body, people sing and dance on the streets and many groups/societies hold cultural evenings throughout these ten days.)

Related Reading: A visit to Mammallapuram – a photo essay
The cave temples of Ellora at Aurangabad – a photo feature
A tour of the Ajanta Caves at Aurangabad – a photo feature
Countering the Hinduphobia of the west

More:
Large mammals survived in India long after they became extinct in many parts of the world
Environmental damage caused by the Ganpati Festival

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WikipediaWictionaryChambers (UK)Google imagesGoogle defineThe Free DictionaryJoin exampleWordNetGoogleUrban DictionaryAnswers.comrhymezone.comMerriam-Webster
WikipediaWictionaryChambers (UK)Google imagesGoogle defineThe Free DictionaryJoin exampleWordNetGoogleUrban DictionaryAnswers.comrhymezone.comMerriam-Webster

WikipediaWictionaryChambers (UK)Google imagesGoogle defineThe Free DictionaryJoin exampleWordNetGoogleUrban DictionaryAnswers.comrhymezone.comMerriam-Webster

34 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2008 10:02 pm

    With so many pictures flashing one after the other in the slideshows, it is feeling just like watching a live Puja pandal! Hope you ate well!

  2. September 8, 2008 10:17 pm

    Wow!!! Loved the show of Ganeshotsav.

  3. September 8, 2008 10:24 pm

    Nice! Thanks for sharing!

  4. September 8, 2008 11:38 pm

    I was in Pune in 1999 and loved the Ganpati festival during that time. It was so beautiful. I think it was at Lakshmi Road, don’t remember exactly. We enjoyed it there the best. Your post reminded me of that!

  5. September 9, 2008 12:15 am

    wow..beautiful pics…. :)
    thanks..
    i have never seen any ganpaty festival live :(

  6. September 9, 2008 12:18 am

    @ Nita

    For reasons entirely unrelated to religion, Ganesh is my favourite mythological character too. At one time I used to collect Ganapati sculptures and statues. Now I have a few in brass, coral and glass which survived all the moving I did… So this is great! :-)

    Also having grown up as a child in a Marathi-speaking neighbourhood, he is also associated in my mind with modak and pooran-poli – and now you have reminded me of them :-(

  7. September 9, 2008 12:55 am

    wow so many nice pictures, thank you for sharing it because we do not have such a thing here. Although since Chandigarh has many bengali people I have seen their version of this thing in winter time.

  8. September 9, 2008 1:06 am

    The post is very well done, Nita – all these slideshows and your personal note create a wonderful mood, a festive feeling. Thanks !

    I find it not surprosing, that many people like Ganesh – apparently, children worldwide are fond of elefants and naturally innocent people are attracted by this figure too :) Ganesh has a very sweet and joyful nature, which represents for me the Indian character.

  9. September 9, 2008 1:09 am

    Beautiful pictures Nita. Thanks for sharing.

  10. September 9, 2008 5:10 am

    Beautiful pics Nita. We didn’t celebrate Ganesh Utsav growing up, so I find it all the more fascinating. Hindu festivals are so full of joy and color and I definitely love that aspect of festivals.

  11. September 9, 2008 7:56 am

    Amazing. :) Thanks for sharing.

  12. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 9, 2008 8:19 am

    @ Shefaly:

    Modak — yummy! You forgot to mention the dollop of fragrant, granular, home-made toop that goes with it.

    Only, the particular variety of modak you are probably thinking of — steamed, in jackets of rice-flour dough — are now becoming rare, being too laborious to make. Their place is being taken by fried ones in wheat-flour jackets, or even with pedhas shaped like modak.

    O tempora!

  13. September 9, 2008 8:37 am

    Rdoc, no food at these pandals! This is an activity one needs to do after eating.

    Dineshbabu, lakshmi road is right. The ganpatis are concentrated in that area, although we took a look at some at deccan and karve rd as well.

    Amit, that’s what I love about our festivals, they are so much fun! Particularly as they are community activities.

    Axinia, Ganesh is a very lovable figure and he is the God of Plenty. Children love him as you said.

    Arvind, worth taking a trip to Pune too…if you don’t mind the crowds.

    Shefaly, I too collect ganeshas! Or rather, used to. :) And as for puran poli, it’s the only sweet dish that I really relish…I am not too fond of eating sweets otherwise, though my tolerance is increasing with age. ;)

    Thanks Reema, Nomad, Vikram, Prerna, Odzer

  14. Nitin Mahajan permalink
    September 9, 2008 9:14 am

    @Nita:You have brought up some memories!Used to be great fun and an excellent night out with family.We never used to miss one till I turned 13.After that going to watch Ganpati displays wasn’t “cool”anymore.Haven’t been to one in the last 12 years.
    @Shefaly
    I am typing with one hand as I have a steaming hot modak in the other! :)

  15. September 9, 2008 10:37 am

    This is a great festival. After the puja I feel very relaxed and tranquil.

    The energy levels seem so high and if you notice stress levels also dip.

    I also like the bonding that is fostered during this time. Meeting relatives and friends (in times when social meetings have dwindled) is an added pleasure.

    The eats, of course, take the prime place and indulging one’s sweet tooth is permitted.

  16. September 9, 2008 11:52 am

    Lovely images! :D
    This festival is huge even in Bangalore… Lots of colors and music… But one irritating part is that most of the roads will be blocked… :D

  17. September 9, 2008 1:56 pm

    :))

    happy ganeshostasav :D

  18. September 9, 2008 2:00 pm

    I m in Mumbai and here the atmosphere during Ganesh Chaturthi is just jubiliant and wild .. I m just loving it..

    Ganpati Bappa Morya !!!

  19. chirax permalink
    September 9, 2008 2:24 pm

    Nice Work. What about the sweets? :)

  20. September 9, 2008 3:11 pm

    I love GANESH too!!!!!
    have a nice day!

  21. September 9, 2008 5:40 pm

    :) beautiful Pics…

    I took the pics for my blog when they were closed for viewing(someone told me ganpati sleeps when the pandals are covered from front :D )

    Beautiful, nice to see the the brighter side too.

    I miss being at my hometown.

  22. September 9, 2008 6:27 pm

    @Rdoc I think the custom of keeping food stalls are only there in Durga Puja Pandals….as Bongs are quite “petu”…me being a bong myself :)

  23. September 9, 2008 7:54 pm

    hey wot a gr8 show Nita.

    Thanx for sharing it with ur blogreaders.

  24. September 9, 2008 9:39 pm

    Thanks a ton for the pix Nita :) I miss Pune..Hope Dagduseth Ganpati is doing good :)

  25. September 9, 2008 9:57 pm

    Nitin, thanks. Yeah I guess by the time one went to college it wasn’t the done thing. I used to go with some neighbors, but even this I stopped after a while. The crowds are too much!

    Mavin
    , its absolutely true what you said…the energy levels are to be seen to be believed! I am always amazed at how people come to life during this festival! People really enjoy themselves a lot and I guess a lot of people get spiritual peace too. They really love Ganpati and I personally get a lot of peace from attending an aarti. Can’t explain it, but I think it’s something to do with childhood.

    Nikhil, lots of bad things about these festivals…sigh!

    Chakoli, happy ganeshutsav to you too! :)

    Soham, Ganpati Bappa Morya and pudhchya varshi laukar ya! :)

    Chirax, I don’t like sweets! :)

    Francina
    , nice day to you too!

    Sharad,
    thanks. I think the Ganesh Festival has a very very good side, and I think Mavin has explained it nicely!

    Priyanka, welcome!

    Harsha, thanks. And nothing to beat pune! ever! though i am a mumbaikar now. I remember your post last year on ganeshutsav and the lack of eco-friendly ganpatis, it was a great post!

  26. September 10, 2008 3:31 pm

    Excellent Pictures Nita. Its a marvel indeed :)

  27. September 10, 2008 5:56 pm

    Beautiful Snaps,Nita.
    Besides, Did anyone notice what happens to these beautiful idols after they are immersed?
    I got a mail from one of my friend, showing the same idols being dragged by Bulldozers like garbage, Broken idols on beaches lying near debris!
    Shouldn’t there be some ritual (process or arrangement ) for decomposing or restoring these idols honorably?Or is it just a one night’s when we all pay homage to our beloved God and the very next day we don’t even care what happened to the personification of our Gods!

    Tarun, I got that email forward too and yes it’s sad. But if you ask me it is better that this happens rather than the idols polluting the water. As you pointed out, these idols are not abandoned, they are “immersed” but the tide simply brings them back again. Nature cleaning itself. I love nature, I love this earth and it may sound irreligious, but I love nature more than any idol that is not one with nature. I believe in eco-friendly idols, the way they were in the old days. That is how they were meant to be. – nita.

  28. September 10, 2008 11:32 pm

    Very beautiful and colorful pics. :) Although I have never been a part of this festival but I have heard a lot about the electrifying mood of it.

  29. September 11, 2008 9:14 am

    This time Ganesh Puja was celebrated in Delhi and nearby area of Ghaziabad with huge zeal..few years back there was nothing like that
    I’m happy that local people along with Maharashtrians celebrated the festival with equal zeal, and even Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit participated in the festival

  30. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 11, 2008 12:17 pm

    WRT the pollution of water bodies caused by the immersion of Ganapati idols, do see the current (Sep 2008) issue of Reader’s Digest (India). On p. 136 there is an article, “The Good Ganeshas of Pen”, which talks about the traditional environment-friendly Ganapati idols made in a small town in Raigad district, and why they are going out of favour.

  31. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 11, 2008 12:29 pm

    V. Mittal:

    Contrary to what you seem to suggest, Ganesh Chaturthi is historically not unique to Maharashtrians. It is equally important in Tamil Nadu, Karntaka and Andhra Pradesh, where they call it Vinayaka Chaturthi.

    It was because Lokmanya Tilak decided to harness this traditionally household festival to his socio-political agenda in the 1880s, and started the Saarvajanik Ganeshotsav, that it acquired a distinctive Maharashtrian identity in the perception of others around the country.

    Today it is an all-India affair because, like Navaratri, Durga Puja, Onam etc., it has become a money-spinner. There is hardly anything of either religious or cultural value left in it.

  32. September 11, 2008 12:51 pm

    Mr Khadpekar

    I agree with you, but “Genesh Visarjan” was never performed in Delhi earlier..and i’m happy to see it starting in Delhi and nearby areas
    in Ghazibad few days back a special 3100 Kg “Laddoo” was prepared by local Maharashtrian community, and it there was a buzz about that even in Delhi..And it was a huge success

  33. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 11, 2008 6:34 pm

    V. Mittal:

    By tradition, once you do the Ganesh pratishThApanA on the Chaturthi, you must perform the visarjan in a natural (preferably fluvial) water body latest by Ananta Chaturdashi, ten days later.

    When I was a child growing up in Delhi in the late-1950s and early 60s, there were perhaps half a dozen Maharashtra Mandals across the city. The visarjan of all their Ganapatis, as well as of those that some people installed at home, used to take place in the Yamuna just behind the Red Fort.

    So your statement that visarjan was never performed in Delhi before is not correct.

  34. September 12, 2008 9:23 am

    May be, it was never done on such a large scale as it was done this time and not only in Delhi, in nearby UP(Ghaziabad) and Haryana towns too

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