It is said that Mumbai never sleeps. Well, this became evident when our group of four friends became a part of the most breathtaking festival of Ganesh Chaturthi 2017. Commemorating more than one mythological belief and historical significance for 10 days, the festival is dedicated to Lord Ganpati, the divine deity of wisdom and intellect. It seems to trigger an aura of unity in diversity and a flair of artistictreat.
The big city comes alive on the first day with street processions with vibrating drums, beating leziums, and dancing people chanting "Ganpati Bappa Morya!"Just go roaming about on any street and you are likely to spend some minutes in exploring a pandal (tent) housing a small or big statue of the elephant-headed deity! However, with less time to explore in three days, we targeted only three major places.
Lalbaug Cha Raja - Parel (Central Mumbai)
Waiting for 20 hours to reach the idol and the strong belief of millions that all wishes come true by praying to this idol define the divinity of this pandal. It is the most visited as well as populated pandal in Mumbai and easily accessible via walking from the Parel central railway station.
The fact that people wait in a queue for 20 hours simply demonstrates the unflinching faith in this statue. Even we waited for 20 hours happily to touch the Lord's feet and pray, as refreshments were served at every few meters to survive the long waiting time.
This time, the theme of Kurma was illustrated through the throne, with Kurma being the Lord Vishnu's second turtle avatar marking longevity. The overall appearance was huge and alive, as if the Lord is there to bless us all. Many parts of idol such as the hands, crown, and neck were decorated in gold.
Interestingly, the pandal remains open 24 x 7for all 10 days. Obviously, we were tired after waiting for 20 hours but it did not hamper our next visit to the nearby pandal of Ganesh Galli (obviously the next day).
Mumbaicha Raja - Ganesh Galli (Near Lalbaugcha Raja)
The22-foot high idol here attracts diverse crowds from all over Mumbai every year. The Ganesh idol here was seated on a well-crafted Seshnaag statue (divine king of snakes with five heads) whose heads are over the Lord's crown. The Lord's necklace is made using pure gold. The look was quite creative and attention grabbing to make each worshipper wait for a few seconds.
From the worshippers, we came to know that this pandal comes up with sumptuous and distinct themes every year. This time it replicated a temple of Vellore in Tamil Nadu. Another commendable aspect of this idol is less use of Plaster of Paris to reduce pollution.
Here, our waiting time was just an hour in afternoon at around 2 p.m. Then, we moved to the final pandal, which is the richest one in Mumbai.
GSB - King's Circle (Central Mumbai)
This is where we rejoiced looking at the Ganesh idol fully made using natural clay and 60 kilograms of pure gold. Another distinctive aspect is the use of only traditional Indian instruments for playing music instead of playing recorded music.Here, the idol resides only for five days.
With this, our trip of three days ended, leaving us with a divine and blissful feeling.