Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival of Lord Ganesha. It is celebrated in many states of India, but in Maharashtra the celebrations are more grand. The ten day festival starts with the installation of the Ganesh idol and ends with its immersion, the Ganesh Visarjan.
Traditionally Ganesh idols are made out of a special clay (called shadu mati in Marathi). But many craftsmen now resort to Plaster of Paris as it is easily available, cost effective and much more faster to work with. For the past few years, there has been a growing awareness about the harmful effects of Plaster of Paris on the environment. People have now started using the traditional clay, papier mache or other eco-friendly material. Irrespective of the medium used, the art of sculpting the idol is a highly skilled one. The trade secrets are mostly passed on through generations within the family.
This festival is celebrated in most Maharashtrian homes. Nowadays a lot of non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai and neigbouring cities also follow it with equal vigour. There are public pandals too where Ganesh Chaturthi is a large community celebration on a much bigger scale. Idols as tall as 20 feet in various forms and decor are installed in such pandals.
The Ganesh Visarjan
Ganesh Visarjan is an emotional goodbye to Lord Ganesha, after his ten day stay. The idol is carried in a very ceremonious manner to a nearby water body for immersion.
Ganesh Visarjan is done in various lakes across Mumbai. Every year the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai creates artificial water bodies at various locations, specifically for this purpose.
The real carnival though is at the sea-shore. Almost all of Mumbai’s beaches are open for the Visarjan. But Girgaon Chowpatty is one of the most popular and traditional Visarjan venues of the City. Marve and Madh Island beach, Versova beach, Juhu beach and Shivaji Park beach are other popular venues.
Although Girgaon is well known for it Ganesh Mandals, Lalbaug has always been the center of attraction for the Visarjan ceremony. With popular Ganesh Mandals like Ganesh Galli, Tejukaya, Chinchpokli mandal and Rangari Badak chawl, Lalbaug is also home to the Lalbaug Market Ganpati (known all over as Lalbaugcha Raja).
The Ganesh Visarjan ceremony in Lalbaug follows a unique traditional culture and pattern set in place since years. Most of the Ganpati idols are taken all the way to Girgaum Chowpatty, with the exception of the Chinchpokli Idol. This is immersed at Dadar’s Shivaji Park beach.
Presenting below a photo feature covering one of the most iconic cultural events of Mumbai, the Ganesh Visarjan in Lalbaug!
The Creations and the Creators
In Lalbaug the visarjan is flagged off by by the departure of the Ganesh Galli ganpati, the original Emperor of Lalbaug. No other ganpati moves out till the Ganesh Galli ganpati has left his abode, a tradition followed for many years. The Ganesh Galli ganpati proceeds under numerous flower showers and confetti as it starts its journey.
Late Dinanath Weling used to create the Ganesh Galli ganpati. Later crafted by Vijay Khatu (who recently passed away), it is every year a masterpiece in itself. Established in 1928, the Ganesh Galli ganpati mandal is the oldest in Lalbaug.
The Tejukaya ganpati moves out on Ambedkar road after the Ganesh Galli ganpati, a clockwork mechanism followed for years. The idol, usually created by Rajan Zhad, has a beauty of its own every year. The signature dis-proportionate ears and a swollen forehead are the characteristics of Rajan Zhad’s creation for Tejukaya every year.
The unique Flower Shower
The Shroff Building, situated at the Chinchpokli & Lalbaug market junction is the pioneer of the ‘Flower Shower’. Any and every flower shower happening in the city is inspired by this one.
The Rangari Badak Chawl ganpati created by Ram Sarang is a super example of proportion and anatomy. Following years of tradition this procession still reaches the Girgaum Chowpatty on a bullock cart.
The Chinchpokli ganesh mandal formed in 1920 is the oldest ganesh mandal in the area. (Its older than the Ganesh Galli, but technically Chinchpokli doesnt fall in Lalbaug).
The 2012 idol of Chinchpokli Mandal
Chinchpokli ganpati idol created by Vijay Khatu, usually is THE most beautiful ganpati idol in the city. Absolute proportion of the head, hands and trunk, this sculpture is adorned with a lot of real jewelry and precious stones. The eye painting (aakhni as it is called in traditional marathi sculpture language) is a text book chapter for young artists. From any angle, any perspective the Chinchpokli idol is always a piece of superb graceful art.
Though crowded, the Lalbaug Ganesh Visarjan is a treat to watch. Its a fantastic event for photo enthusiasts. However, the ‘Gulal’ thrown around could be harmful for the camera.
Access: Almost all the roads in and around Lalbaug are crowded or closed on this day. Best is to walk from the nearby railway stations. Just follow the crowd and you wont miss Lalbaug.
Nearest stations are Lower Parel on the Western Railway and Currey Road or Chinchpokli on the Central Line.