ANPUR: For those who think that it’s only Maharashtra that celebrates ‘Ganesh Chaturthi‘, the industrial city is a perfect answer. With big pandals and varied forms of Ganpati, the city looked like a mini-Mumbai on the first day of Ganpati Utsav, which started here on Monday.
Kanpur, home to thousands of Maharashtrians, witnessed a drastic rise in Ganpati Utsav this year. Approximately 1,000 small and big pandals have been erected in city. Talking to TOI, Prakash Kharwardkar, organizer of Sarvajanik Shree Ganesh Utsav Samiti, said that the entire purpose of having a big celebration of Ganesh Utsav is not only traditional or religious. “We are trying to bring the culture of Maharashtra to the north,” he added.
Even the district administration has geared up with heavy police and PAC force to look after the security arrangements at pandals. Even the fire brigade stations were ordered to keep tight arrangements to avoid any mishap. Astrologer Atul Dubey said, “This spectacular festival honours the birth of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha is popularly worshiped to remove obstacles and bring good fortune. Ganesh Utsav falls in late August or early September, depending on the cycle of the moon. ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ falls on the fourth day after new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada.”
For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the11th day, the idol is taken through streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of mankind.
On the first day of ‘Utsav’ hurried workers were trying to finish the last stage of construction in pandals. Local shopkeepers are busy putting up their stalls outside the temple and in the market to attract the city denizens.
Thousands of devotees thronged the famous Ganesh temple at, Suterkhana, Shivalaya, Bithoor etc on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Long queues were seen outside the temple since early morning. Most of the devotees were barefoot, standing under the sun and chanting ‘Ganpati Bappa Moriya’, which could be heard aloud, giving strength and solace to the long beeline of devotees.
In the evening hours, people thronged the Ganpati pandals where maha-aarti was performed with bhajan sandhya and gulal playing. The lightings and display of the pandals gave the city a festive look, which forced the people to stay on streets till late night hours. The Ganpati Pandals witnessed huge rush on day one of Ganesh Utsav which gradually increased with every passing day.
Meanwhile, Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated with religious fervour in Varanasi on Monday. Hundreds of devotees thronged temples to worship Lord Ganesha and to seek blessings of the Lord on the occasion. Heavy rush was seen at Bada Ganesh Temple, Chintamani Ganesha Temple and Sakshi Ganesha Temple.
Lambodara Chintamani and Jyestha Vinayka at Lali Ghat witnessed day long offering of prayers by the devotees. A number of Marathi visitors and local people with Marathi origin also thronged the temples and ghats to celebrate the 10-day long Ganesha Mahotsava. Meanwhile, special shringar and aarti was also held at various temples. A number of women also observed fast and prayed for the wellbeing of their family members on the occasion.
Meanwhile, special bhajan and kirtan were organised in different temples, muths and ashrams in the city. Besides, several puja committees geared up for the festivity by setting up puja pandals adorning colourful and attractive idols of Lord Ganesha.Festive spirit was also visible at Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sankat Mochan, Durgakund temple and other prominent temples of the city. Many devotees decorated their houses and conducted special pujas in their homes. The business community also organised various special puja events.
AURANGABAD: Over 1,000 Ganesh mandals across the city on Monday installed Ganesh idols with traditional fervor.
Ram Budhwant, a member of the Ganesh Mahasangh in Aurangabad, said that Ganpati idol ‘sthapana’ was held at the auspicious hour. Dignitaries of the city joined a ‘pran pratisthapana’ programme held around 11am.
“Last year, around 1,300 mandals were registered. The number is likely to increase by almost 100 mandals this year,” said Aurangabad commissioner of police, Sanjay Kumar.
Kumar said that even small mandals have appealed to their local police stations to be included in a security plan, wherein the police conduct patrols around mandals.
Markets witnessed substantial crowds right from the early morning, with many buying idols and ‘puja’ and ritual knick-knacks before the installation of idols at home. Shops in Gulmandi in the old city area remained crowded, with decorative items flying off the shelves. “The shopping spree for the beloved god has only begun and will continue with the Mahalakshmi puja and other rituals over the next 10 days,” said Sadhana Joshi, a city resident.
Many citizens preferred to reuse decorative material. “The family has planned to reuse festive items from previous years to reduce the impact on the environment, since these are primarily made from plastic or other synthetic materials. We have also chosen an eco-friendly idol,” said Archana Bhalerao, a resident of the Shreya Nagar area.
Residences were decorated with traditional bands and colours to welcome the god, with installations being wrapped up by evening. The ‘puja’ is planned for 7 pm.
As many as 600 big and small Ganpati pandals would be set up on Ganesh Utsav. The organizing committees are not leaving any stone unturned in the preparations. Special efforts are being made to ensure that the rain may not spoil the festive spirit. Water-proof pandals are being set up.
Forms like palace and temple architecture remain the favourite. Traditional floral decorations, artifacts made up of Chinese lights and earthen pots are also being favoured for decorations. The Mandals and utsav samitis are trying hard to be innovative.
“Devotees do not bother to get wet during festivities but the rainwater may damage the idols and pose hurdles in puja. Arrangements are being made at pandals so that Ganpati Utsav is not hampered by rain,” said Vipin Dwivedi, organizer of Ganpati Utsav in Saketnagar.
At Raipurwa, Babupurwa and Jajmau, the organizers are planning to introduce temporary boundaries to prevent rainwater from entering the pandals.
The organizers are also making separate entrance and exit point in the pandals to overcrowding. Pandals Vijaynagar, Cantt and Naubasta are also following the safety norms.
Mandals in the small localities like Yashodanagar, Shankaracharyanagar are violating the instructions given by district administration.
At these places, pandals are neither water-proof nor have CCTVs or security arrangements. Pandals erected in small localities are the places where cases of eve-teasing and theft take place/
“We lack funds. With only 50 houses in our area, we hardly manage to get a big idol for puja. Making arrangements like fire safety and CCTV is impossible,” said an organizer in Deokinagar.
Ganpati in various forms would hog limelight during the festival. Ganpati idols depicting social evils like corruption, child labour, dowry, female foeticide and bribery would be displayed at pandal.
NAVI MUMBAI: A family of Ganpati idol-makersin Ulwe is aggressively promoting environment-friendly clay or shadu idols.
Nitin Kumbhar and his two brothers, Hareshwar and Ganesh, have already made nearly 50 such idols this year, for clients from Mumbai. Navi Mumbai and other cities, and want to start an institute soon to promote the making of such idols.
Kumbhar’s father, Pandurang, started making clay murtis in the 1940s, at Ulwe Gaon; today, with Ulwe emerging as a crucial node of Navi Mumbai, the children are continuing that tradition.
“Earlier, artisans mostly made clay idols. We have retained that culture and would like to popularise it. These days, most idols are made of plaster of paris because idol-making has been transformed from an art into a profit-making enterprise,” Nitin Kumbhar said.
The biggest idol Nitin has created this year is five feet tall, for a mandal in Pune. He has used 10 kg of shadu clay for it, and half a kg of coir (coconut shell hair). He says he uses coir on the wet inner portion of an idol to make the structure sturdy.
Nitin is keen to start a school for artisans so the new generation can learn.
Traffic DCP says mandals moving out for immersion in the day, instead of in the evening, will reduce the entire time taken by at least five to six hours
The discontent over the long hours of wait in the Ganpati immersion procession, that has been making its presence felt among the mandals that follow the five Manache Ganpati to the riverside, may well be a thing of the past if the proposal put forward by the Hatti Ganpati Mandal is implemented.
The mandal has proposed that it precede the Manache by taking out its procession in the day, instead of at 5 pm, which has been the norm till now. “Bickering among the mandals over who will go ahead in the queue on Tilak Road has been going up since the last five years.
Around 140 mandals line up on this road as part of the immersion procession. The problem is acute at Abhinav College chowk, where we get stuck. Other mandals try to jump the queue and then there are fights.
Last year, our progress was blocked at this chowk for four hours,” said Sham Mankar, the mandal’s president for the last 30 years. He added, “The main reason behind our proposal is to avoid lengthy processions, which holds up the public till late at night. It ultimately creates pressure on the police.
As per tradition, our mandal starts out from Swargate chowk at 5 pm, proceeds via Tilak Road till Durvankur Hotel chowk, and then from there for immersion to Alka Talkies chowk.” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare agrees.
“We are hoping other mandals that follow the Hatti Ganpati mandal support this proposal, as it will help to reduce the total time taken to complete the immersion procedure by at least five to six hours,” he said.
The last three years have seen the procession take well over a day — 28.5 hours in 2012, 27.47 hours in 2011 and 27.15 hours in 2010. Pandhare added, “Hatti Ganpati mandal’s initiative to start their procession during the day, and that too from Tilak Road, will certainly reduce the pressure on the police on Laxmi Road as the publice lines both roads to take in the processions.
They have set an example for other mandals, and if many mandals follow their lead, we can round up this last-day event in less time. It will also benefit the public as there will be traffic congestion will be reduced on Laxmi Road and Tilak Road.”
This year, the Hatti Ganpati mandal has lined up performers from other states on Tilak Road to add colour to the immersion procession. “We are bringing in artistes from eight to ten other states, who will display their tradition, folk dances alongside our procession.
We hope this will divert citizens to Tilak Road and ease the pressure on Laxmi Road,” said Mankar. The Hatti Ganpati mandal’s immersion procession consists of a decorated rath bearing the main Ganpati idol, preceded by four to five dhol pathakas, two musical bands and one group of singers.
The mandal use bulls to pull the rath rather using a tractor, and the entire mix occupies almost two km of road. “This year, we will start the procession at noon from Swargate, and we hope to finish by 4 pm.
We have appealed to other mandals in the city to start early, if possible. Together, we can finish the entire immersion within 24 hours,” Mankar said. “The decision of Hatti Ganpati to proceed in the day is good.
We are behind them in the procession on Tilak Road, and it usually takes us a long time,” said Sanjay Balgude, president of the Guruwar Peth-based Khadakmal Aali Mandal.
Shirish Mohite, president Seva Mitra Mandal on Shivaji Road, welcomed this decision, saying, “We are in favour of starting the immersion procession in the day, after learning of Hatti Ganpati mandal’s proposal.
We will take a final call after consulting with other members of our mandal.” Natu Baug mandal, Bajirao Road, president Pramod Kondhare, though, isn’t in favour of the proposal. “Our mandal has decorative lighting, so it cannot be taken out during the day.
The public specially come to see our lighting, so we start out around 7 pm. Hatti Ganpati Mandal’s decision is fine, but I fear it will affect the small mandals. The time taken for small mandals to complete the immersion will be affected if the Hatti Ganpati procession goes on till late evening.”
The Lower Parel railway workshop Ganesh idol is a burning example of how to put waste to best use. The six-foot-tall idol made entirely from dumped railway bogie parts stands proudly inside a temple made from scrap generated by the workshop. The Lord and His abode are so unique, it is hard to miss them even amid the hectic activity around.
“I created the idol around three years ago. All of us who work here pray to it every day. It is a symbol of our dedication to railways. It sends out the message that even scrap is given the form of God here,” said Santosh Gajakosh, a grade-I fitter who maintains old coaches, beats iron panels into shape and repairs equipment.
While the idol trunk is made of equalising stay rods, milk tank brass hangers make its ears and air suspension cylinders the body. The idol is repainted and decorated before every Ganesh and other festivals.
The heavy duty railway workshop at Mahalaxmi too is a proud possessor of two such Ganesh idols and an ‘iron man’.
“It takes 10-12 days to complete the work,” said Ganesh Laxman Ambekar, a grade-I welder who has made the two idols, one showing Ganpati playing a musical instrument.
The ‘iron man’ gifted by bogie assembling unit staff to Indian Railways on the 85th anniversary of electrification of WR, is symbolic of the core nature of the Mahalaxmi workshop that maintains local trains.
Ambekar and Gajakosh’s enthusiasm is shared by Rajan Bhagwat, a junior engineer in the mechanical department of the diesel locomotive shed in Pune. He also spends considerable time and effort in creating idols from scrap.
“In 2001, I made an idol of Lord Ganesh for installation in the bungalow of then Central Railway general manager. In 2003, I made another idol for then GM’s Peddar Road bungalow using scrap from diesel locomotives at the shed. I used the lid of a filter drum to make the face of the idol. I have also made idols of Balaji and Padmavathi from scrap. The satisfaction is immense,” said Bhagwat.
Ganpati pandals have been put up at over two-dozen place sin the state capital and the biggest of them is at the Ramadhin Utsav Bhavan.
The Ganpati idol, dressed spectacularly in a silk attire embellished with traditional gold and silver jewellery, is placed in a pandal decorated in yellow.
Mr Satish Agarwal, general secretary of the Shri Ganesh Prakatya Samiti that has organised the pandal, says that the footfalls of devotees are increasing by the hour. “There are about one lakh people who visited the pandal for Ganpati darshan and we are now holding Bhajan programmes every evening after aarti. We have also got people from Mumbai to prepare modaks because there are no traditionally prepared modaks available in Lucknow as yet.’
At another Ganpati pandal organised by Sai Sewa ashram, the idol installed is an eco-friendly one and use of plastic products, including carry bags, is banned inside the pandal.
Suresh Prajapati, an idol maker, says, “This year we hade more orders for Ganesh statues than for Durga idols. For us, this time of the year is spent in making Durga idols but this year we are working double shifts to cope with orders for Ganesha idols. We have orders for Ganesh is different sizes — from an eight-inch statue to six- and eight-foot statues. The maximum number of buyers is those who bring Ganpati home.”
Rajiv Sharma, a software engineer, who started bringing Ganpati home for three days since last year, admits that he was inspired by visuals of Ganpati festival in Maharashtra. ”I thought that in north India we worship Ganpati before doing an auspicious work so we should also bring him home. We bring him home for three days but we want to celebrate the festival on a bigger scale from next year,” he says.
Amdavadis Meena and Sandeep Damre have created an eco-friendly Ganesha out of palm leaves with the help of their children Sravishta and Renesh. The couple has been making eco-friendly idols since 2000. “Ganpati festival is a good time for children to learn about climate change and global warming and the need to stop abusing the environment,” says Meena.
The couple has been making eco-friendly Ganesh using natural material like clay, leaves, flour, puffed rice, fruits and vegetables. Ganesha idols that are immersed in rivers and lakes are made mostly of Plaster of Paris (PoP) which does not dissolve in water, while the dyes and paints used on the idols release harmful substances like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
“According to our ancient traditions, only plain clay was used to make Ganesha idols. However, the facts that PoP costs less and is lighter had started a different trend,” Sandeep adds.
Lord’s message: Keep politics clean
The bright Ganesha with orange-red hues at Bhimjipura Crossroads in Nava Wadaj is an eye-catcher. This idol is made of buckets, tumblers, brushes and myriad other tools which are used to clean. In fact, this Ganpati also has a washing machine!
“This year the theme is cleanliness in general and in politics in particular,” said Tushar Tapodhan, a former make-up artist and one of the brains behind the idol. Interestingly, while this Ganesha made of plastic buckets and tumblers is not exactly eco-friendly, what helps it stake a claim is the fact that the organizers will not take this idol for immersion. “We never immerse our Ganesh idols but donate it to charity. Since these are pieces of art, they are lapped up by organizations and used as exhibits in institutes. Last year we had made Ganpati on the theme of Swarnim Gujarat which was donated to the Gujarat Cancer Hospital,” said Tapodhan.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a popular festival celebrated in India. The 10-day long celebration includes decorating Ganesha idols at home, making and enjoying mouth-watering delicacies and of course, music, lights and immersion of the idol on the last day. However, as we celebrate Ganpati, we often forget how small things we do during the festival can cause harm to the environment. This year, we believe it’s time for some eco-consciousness. So here are some simple ways to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way.
Use eco-friendly idols: Ditch Ganesha idols made of chemicals, plaster of Paris, plastic and thermocol and opt for natural biodegradable materials like clay and papier mache instead. Biodegradable materials do not pollute the water or the surroundings after immersion. Homemaker Jaya Shanti says, “I make a Ganpati using haldi (turmeric) at home. This is 100% natural and doesn’t cause any harm to the environment.” You can also use other natural products such as coconut to make your idol and natural colours to paint it.
Small and sweet: Big idols occupy a lot of space and take a lot of time to dissolve in water. So, don’t keep an idol more than 5 feet tall in your society. Huge idols also consume more POP for its making; this material is harmful to the environment. Bigger idols also cause traffic congestion. Remember it’s the ritual and your emotions that should be big.
Conserve energy: We all love the fairy lights and bright incandescent bulbs. But they are a waste of energy and are expensive too. Replace these with compact fluorescent lights (CFL) as they save electricity and your money. You could wrap coloured transparent papers on the bulbs to give a dramatic look.
Use natural colours for rangoli: Use biodegradable colours such as turmeric, henna, rice powder, coloured dal and gulaal to make rangoli. These colours are eco-friendly and safe. Also, say no to decorations made of plastic and non-degradable material. Gargi Bansod, journalist says, “We use natural materials such as cloth, wood and paper for decorations. We also reuse materials from previous years in different ways.”
Say no to noise pollution: Avoid playing loud music which can cause disturbance in your society. Try playing instruments that are soft and soothing. Loudspeakers create noise pollution and can annoy hospitals, schools and your neighbours. Make sure to turn off the music by 10pm and abide by rules. Say no to crackers as well!
Ban plastic: There is a lot of delicious food served at home during Ganpati as well as fruits and sweets offered at pandals. Skip plastic and serve food in natural plates such as banana leaves instead. You can use cloth bags to carry prasad and other offerings as they can be reused later.
Limit the number of public pandals: Festivals are supposed to bring people together. So, instead of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi separately at different pandals, make one big pandal in your area for the entire neighborhood. Remember, more pandals means more noise, garbage and waste of electricity.
Artificial immersion tank: Using rivers, ponds, lakes or seas to immerse Ganesha idols can cause health hazards and is bad for the environment. Use an artificial immersion tank to immerse the idol. You can request your community members to do the same.
Organisers of the Ganesha Tejukaya Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal Trust in Lalbaug are on tenterhooks this year. Their towering 21-feet-high Ganpati idol took a tumble during last year’s immersion procession, leaving many devotees and organisers in despair. To set their minds at rest, they have decided to commission a replica of last year’s idol this year, and give it a proper immersion.
This year’s idol will stand 18 feet tall, in keeping with new guidelines set by the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti.
Sculptor Rajan Zad, who has been making the idol for this mandal for the past 27 years, claims that he has been having sleepless nights since the ‘fall’ last year, and can’t wait to redeem himself by constructing a replica of the same idol this year.
He has 12 years of experience in crafting towering Ganpati idols. The idol was constructed against a single pole last year, possibly causing it to plummet.
Zad said, “Immersion day last year was one of the most unfortunate days in my life, as the idol I created was not properly immersed. Whenever I make idols I get very attached to them. The design of the idol last year was very dear to me, and so I wanted to make a replica of it this year.
When the mandal asked me to create their mandal this year, I jumped at the opportunity. The only difference is that this idol would be 18 feet high instead of last year’s 21. This year I will take more precautions, and will fix more support to the idol so that there is no chance of accidents.”
The mandal and the residents of Tejukaya area in Lalbaug are also happy with the decision to recreate last year’s idol, as they want to give their lord a proper immersion, which they couldn’t last year due to the fall.
Mangesh Shinde, a member of the mandal, said, “It was decided unanimously by our residents and our mandal to have the same idol this year, standing on the dhol just like last year. We didn’t change the height because we were scared of another fall, but because of the rule set by the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti setting the maximum permissible height for idols at 18 feet.”
The long and the short of it
A new rule implemented this year prevents mandals from constructing idols that surpass a maximum height of 18 feet. The rule has been brought into force by the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), an umbrella body which coordinates with Ganpati festival organisers and the civic authority, along with the Mumbai Murtikar Sangh. Many mandals however have decided to ignore the new rule and have commissioned idols over 20 feet tall, citing tradition.