Ganesha Gully walk
The lane (gully) in Lalbaug, in central Mumbai, takes its name from the rows of Ganesha-shala or workshops where the Ganapati idols are made. Usually, the owners and sculptors will not stop you from entering or roaming around in the workshops but do take their permission before taking photographs. You will also find on sale the ritualistic offerings, various items for decorations, the idols for the Gauri-Ganapati festival, the sweets or the modak, etc. Beyond Bombay conducts regular walks here prior to the Ganapati festival.
To stop the use of environment-unfriendly colours and material, many organisations are trying to spread awareness about making eco-friendly idols. You can check out Mumbai Goes Green for a range of eco-friendly idols.
Ganapati festival dates
The Ganapati (Ganesha) Festival begins on Ganesha Chaturthi or the fourth day and ends on Anant Chaturdashi or the 14th day of the fortnight according to the lunar calendar. In 2015, the 11-day festival begins on September 17 and ends on September 27. Many people follow a curtailed calendar worshipping Ganapati for one and a half days, three days, five days and seven days. One interesting feature is the Gauri-Ganesha festival (September 17-19), when the mother and son are worshipped together.
Visit the various Ganapati mandals (associations) in and around Mumbai. Most of the famous mandals observe the 11-day festival. The Girgaum Keshavji Naik Chawl festival, started in 1893, is said to be Mumbai’s oldest sarvajanik or community Ganapati festival. You cannot miss the Lalbaugcha Raja (dates back to 1934). The visit will extract every ounce of your patience. Depending whether you are visiting on a weekday or a weekend, you may have to wait for two to six hours in the general queue (Mukhadarshan); it takes far longer if you are waiting in the wish-fulfilment (Navas) queue. Watching famous film actors and other VIPs coming to offer their puja is also a favourite pastime here.
Some of the other famous Ganapatis are the Mumbaicha Raja of Ganesha Galli, Andhericha Raja (which celebrates for the longest duration as the idol is immersed five days after Anant-chaturdashi or the day when all other idols are taken for immersion), Fort Vibhag Ganesh Utsav Mandal, GSB Seva Mandal, Khetwadi Ganraj, Chembur’s Sahyadri Krida Mandal, etc.
As the towering idols are taken for immersion in the sea, hundreds of people, including musicians, follow in their wake. The sight has to be seen to be believed as the processions meander through the narrow lanes. Girgaum Chowpatty (Beach) on Marine Drive and Juhu Beach in the western suburbs are two of the most famous places to see the immersion. But be prepared for traffic restrictions and mammoth crowds. The different immersion dates for 2015 are September 18, 19, 21, 23 and 27.
Ganapati’s favourite food
Serve Ganesha his favourite food, the modak. These dumpling-shaped sweets are made of rice or wheat flour and then filled with a mixture of coconut and jaggery, and then steamed. But experimentations with different kinds of raw material is not unknown. Last year, the ‘boondi’ modak was in high demand. Diva Mahrashtracha is a good place to check out what’s happening on the experimentation front.