Monday, September 17, 2012

Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra...

My Ganesh Chaturthi Experience...

I love traveling, no doubt. I love being in festivals too. My love for traveling, festivities and faith took me all the way to Pune, Mumbai once during the time of Ganesh Chaturthi. Having relatives in almost every place, or so to say first cousins helped me in realising whenever I want to land somewhere sometimes. ( Perhaps on Earth. I'm on Earth....) Ganesh Chaturthi is more elaborately and widely celebrated at the southern part of the Country like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa etc. Its also celebrated in Bhopal, MP in the central part of the country. Its also celebrated abroad by Indians in UK, United States, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Fiji, Nepal etc.

Pune is the best place to be during the Ganesh Chaturthi. The festival is celebrated in the best way here. Believed to being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630-1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire.The preparations for the celebrations started out quite early, well before the actual events of the Ganesh chaturthi. I, often have heard my cousins, very excitedly telling me all about the roads lined up with Ganeshji idols, all almost the places of Pune. Even just hearing from them makes me so full of joy. It much be so Amazing.

It was five years back. When I visited, Pune's weather at that time of the year (it was September) was so cool, breezy with some rains. We loved the visits to Laxmi market for, to see the many Ganesh Chatturthi celebrations. Some with themes, story telling, great light works, though too crowded and excitement all around us. We ourselves were so excited. Laxmi bazaar in Pune is famous for the Maharastrian sarees. Amidst the festivities going on, many people were also shopping around like anything. So, we love to bring back some sarees for ourselves. Magarpatta city was in celebration, apart from many other places in Pune with local singers and some celebrities as well.

It was such a nice feeling to be enjoying the festivities. Ganesha is widely worshipped all over India, but more so in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc. Ganesha is considered as the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is traditionally considered invoked and blessed to take the Ganesha's blessings for the start of any new venture, or at the start of travel.
Ganesh Chaturthi/ Ganeshotsav ("festival of Ganesha") is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). Ganesha is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the Gods.

Ganesha is worshiped for 10 days. On the 11th day, visarjan is done by taking the idols through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, and fanfare to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual of see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. Modak is the special sweet during the Ganesh Chaturthi. Devotees made this special sweet during the festival for friends & family. I, once had some tasty modak in Bhopal when one of my Maharastrian friends brought some for all of our friends during the festival. Before that, I was not aware of the Modak ,or the elaborate celebration of Ganeshji with such opulence and fanfare. With that, some years later, I had Chocolate Modak at a family friends house in Mumbai which was offered by her lovely daughter.

Witnessing the Visarjan in Mumbai, standing by the Juhu seaside/ beach was an experience which was memorable, rewarding. It was lovely to see all the smiling faces all around. There was happiness all around with people dancing, doing Puja before the idols were immersed finally in the sea.