Ganesh Chaturthi, marking the beginning of 10-day festivities, was celebrated across the country on Monday with the installation of idols of the elephant-headed Hindu god.
Cities in various states wore a festive look as the festivities kicked off amid gaiety and the prayers by devotees.
Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra shifted into a festive gear with the arrival at homes and public places of thousands of big, medium and small idols for the annual Ganeshotsav.
The festival, initiated in an open public format in 1892 by Mumbai’s Bhausaheb Laxman Javale alias Bhau Rangari, enters the 125th year.
It was popularised on a mass scale by freedom-fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak from 1893 onwards in Pune to unite the people against the British Rule and in the struggle for Indian Independence.
In less than a decade, it had spread across the state in a big way and even other parts of the country where public Ganeshotsav celebrations were held.
A century and a quarter later, the festival has transformed into Maharashtra’s biggest, most opulent, glittering fiesta drawing lakhs of devotees and tourists, with the biggest celebrations held in Mumbai, Pune and the coastal Konkan region.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis started the Ganeshotsav at ‘Varsha’, the official chief ministerial bungalow, with an ‘aarti’ (an invocation) and his wife Amruta sang bhajans in praise of Lord Ganesh.
Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and his family also installed an idol at their private home in Nagpur and performed a puja before a large gathering.
At Mumbai’s King’s Circle, one of the biggest draw is the 68-kg pure gold adorned with 325 kg silver, including a 15-kg silver marquee for the idol installed at the GSB Seva Mandal.
Among the celebs, film stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Sachin Pilgaokar, several Marathi actors, television stars, and others like Lata Mangeshkar have installed Lord Ganesh idols at their homes in Mumbai.
Thousands of idols were installed in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana. The festivities also began amid fanfare in Andhra Pradesh.
In Hyderabad, Lord Ganesha’s idols of all sizes and in different colours and ‘avtars’ were installed in specially decorated ‘pandals’ or on makeshift platforms in residential neighbourhoods and commercial centres. About 40,000 idols have been installed in public places.
Like every year, the tallest idol has been installed in Khairatabad, the heart of the city. This year, the organisers have arranged 58-foot tall idol. Long queues of devotees were seen at the biggest idol.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and his wife Vimla Narasimhan started the festivities with ‘puja’ at Khairatabad idol.
The festivities will conclude on September 15 with a mammoth immersion procession, which brings the entire city to a halt.
As the festivities are coinciding with Muslim festival of ‘Bakr Eid’, police is making additional security arrangements to maintain law and order. ‘Bakr Eid’ will be celebrated on September 13.
Police is deployed 20,000 personnel for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the festivities.
Thousands of people across Karnataka celebrated the beginning of the 10-day Ganesha festival on Monday with religious fervour and piety.
In Bengaluru, the famous Dodda Ganesha temple at Basavangudi in the southern suburb, was the centre of activity, as the people from across the city made a beeline since morning to pray and worship him with offerings.
In Madhya Pradesh, devotees crowded temples while many people installed idols in their homes with great pomp and show.
People were seen visiting the Birla temple and other temples in the capital city Bhopal since morning. Many people were seen buying Ganesha statues from the major markets in the city.
Grand Ganesha statues are being installed in public places where religious and cultural programmes related to the festival are being held.
Ganesh Chaturthi, also called Vinayaka Chaturthi was celebrated across Tamil Nadu with people performing prayers before clay idols of the elephant-headed god.
People also thronged Vinayaka temples, where special prayers were conducted before the grandly decorated idols.
Many houses wore a festive look, as people held special prayers at home too.