The Mumbai Ganesh festival is one of the biggest celebrations in the city. If you want to experience in Indian festival on a grand scale, this is it! It's a giant street party with a special spiritual meaning. How did Ganesh Chaturthi become so popular in Mumbai though?
History indicates that the famed Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja introduced Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to the state to promote culture and nationalism. However, it was freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak that transformed it into an organized public event in 1893. His reasons for doing so were to bridge the gap between the castes, and build unity against British colonial rule. Lord Ganesh, as the much loved remover of obstacles and god for everybody, served this purpose.
The tradition has carried on, and nowadays there's great competition amongst local communities to put on the biggest and best display. These 5 famous Mumbai Ganesh mandals are amongst the most popular in the city. However, there are plenty of other well known ones that are worth visiting. Some of them, in south Mumbai, are:
- Ichhapurti Ganesh Mandal, near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in the Fort district.
- Fort Vibhag Ganesh Utsav Mandal, opposite the GPO in the Fort district.
- Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, near the east side of Chinchpokli railway station on the Central line.
- Rangari Badak Chawl Mandal, near the east side of Chinchpokli railway station on the Central line.
- Kamatchawl Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Opposite Zaoba Ram Mandir, Thakurdwar Naka, Thakurdwar. (This one is one of the oldest Ganesh mandals in Mumbai).
- Akhil, Anjeerwadi Mandal, located at Dr. Mascarenhas Road, Mazgaon.
Don't be concerned that you might not be able to find the festival. There are statues in streets all over the city. In fact, it's hard not to come across a display of Lord Ganesh!
If you're in Mumbai up to three months before the festival, you can see the Ganesh statues being made.
An Intimate Experience of the Ganesh FestivalWhile it's one thing to experience the public festival celebrations, it's entirely different and much more personal to join in the celebrations that take place in Mumbai households. Many families bring an idol of the Lord into their homes, where they lovingly worship and care from him. You can be a part of these private celebrations on Breakaway's Ganpati Bappa Morya: The Spirit Behind Mumbai's Favourite God tour.
Where and When to See the Immersions (Visarjan)The festival ends with the parading and immersion of the statues into a body of water, usually the ocean in Mumbai. Find out more about how Ganesh Chatuthi is celebrated.
Where to Stay for the Mumbai Ganesh Festival
"Ganpati Bappa Moriya, Pudcha varshi loukar ya" - Hail Lord Ganpati, come soon again next year.