"Ganpati Bappa Maura", A voice that echoes in every street, every chawl and even from the high rise elite buildings. This is a common scene in Mumbai during the prestigious and very well celebrated occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi.
History of Ganpati Festival in Mumbai
This festival is believed to bring good luck, blessings to all the devotees of Lord Ganesha. The festival is also known as 'Vinayak Chaturthi', Vinayak being another name for Lord Ganesha. This festival marks the birth of Lord Ganesha.
As per the Hindu calender, Ganesha Visarjan is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada or Shukla Chaturthi i.e. the fourth day of the waxing moon phase. The festival is celebrated over a period of 10 days which starts on Shukla Chaturthi (4th day) and ends on Anant Chaturdashi (14th day).
Legend of Ganpati Festival
As per the Hindu stories that tales out Ganesha's origin is as follows. Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva and the Goddess of Shakti carved Ganesha out of Sandalwood paste for the love and wish for a son and breathed life into the sculpted body.
Later, she set him to guard while she went for a bath. Lord Shiva who was not present at that moment and unaware of the son that Parvati had sculpted with her superpowers, returned to his wife but was stopped by Ganesha as an unknown person and on the command of his mother to let no one enter.
Angered by this, the gods raged and Indira attacked the boy with his ferocious army but it came as a failure. Even the pleadings and appeasing from Narada couldn't move the boy. This matter of pride and ego made Lord Shiva angry and in the spurge of a moment, he beheaded the boy leaving him dead.
Parvati was furious at this act and enraged at Lord Shiva for the huge crime he had committed of killing his own son. Lord Shiva, realizing it a bit too late promised his wife that their son would be alive again and sent the Deva and the lords to search for the head of the dead boy that flew to north.
After the lords returned, they came back only with the head of a dead elephant unable to find the head of a human boy. Lord Shiva placed the head on the human body and brought the boy back to life giving him the title of Ganesha. Also, Lord Ganesha was given one more blessing that Lord Ganesha would be the first god everyone would pray before any other god.
Rituals at Ganpati Festival
Preparations of Ganesha Visarjan start almost 2 to 3 months before and idols of Ganesha are available for sale in various sizes, carved by skilled artisans and are adorned beautifully.
These idols are then placed in houses or mandalas under special structures known as Mandapas or Pandals. A priest is appointed for the Ganpati Visarjan procession and to invoke life in the statue by chanting mantras.
The priest is usually clad in red or white dhoti and the ritual he performs is known as Pranapratishhtha. The Shhodashopachara ritual follows next which is the 16 ways of paying tribute in the form of offerings like coconut, jaggery and flowers etc.
The deity of Lord Ganesha is worshiped for 10 days and is anointed with red kumkum (holy red anointment) and the eleventh day the statue is headed towards the destination, followed by people in lakhs who actively participate in a parade of fun, enthusiasm, dance and frolic. It is then immersed in the water with a belief of freeing the devotees of all their troubles.
Food & Delicacies at Ganpati Festival
There are many delicacies specially prepared for this festive phase of 10 days apart from the offerings of Shhodashopachara. Modak, a dumpling made of rice flour with a stuffing of dry fruits, coconut and condiments is cherished which is prepared with the method of steam cooked or fried.
Another sweet dish is the Karanji which has the similar stuffing and preparation but with a semi circular shape.
Following are some other delicacies made during this festive season:
Kudumu- Rice flour dumpling stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture
Vundrallu- steamed coarsely grounded rice flour
Panakam- A drink flavored with jaggery, cardamom and black pepper
Vadapappu- soaked lentils
Chalivdi- cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture
Mandals in Mumbai
The festive occasion in Mumbai is celebrated in every street and house though, but the most famous Mandals are listed below:
Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Lalbaug