During the 11 days of Ganapati, the murthy is brought into our homes and the divine spirit invited to reside and bless us all. During these days, we treat Ganapati as a valued guest and shower him with the best of flowers, fruits and delicious foods. Friends and relatives visit in awe at the divine presence. At festivals end, we bid farewell and the material form is immersed into a water body so as not to soil it. Bidding farewell to our divine visitor is called visarjan. In villages, Ganapati is dunked in the home or community well, or nearby lake or river. In Mumbai, the murthys are carried with pomp and celebration, with much dancing to one of many beaches and immersed in the waters.
The GSB Wadala Muth Ganapati holds some of my fondest memories of sarvajanik (public) Ganapati. At 8 ft, it is not the largest of the Ganapatis, but certainly one of the most artistically excuted and ‘constant.’ Even though the artisans craft a new murthy from clay each year, this murthy has not changed one bit over the last three decades. The size is limited by the doorway to the hall where this Ganapati sits. The GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati contrarily, is built on and sits on a trolley which is covered under a huge outdoor tent. On visarjan day, the stage is dismantled and the trolley with the Ganapati is pulled out. The Wadala Ganapati is wheeled/carried out of the hall, placed on a trailer and taken to Shivaji Park for immersion.
Ganesh Chaturthi (or Ganapati Chauti as we Konkanis call it) is THE celebration in our extended family home in Mumbai. During the five days of Ganapati, all pujas are performed as prescribed in the Puranas, including recitations from the Vedas. After a busy five days, the murthy is consigned to the seas (visarjan), leaving us all melancholy. Even Meera was puzzled that beautiful “Ganapati Bappa” was missing. He’ll be back next year, Meera! And so will we all.
The murthy is brought home, the day before. In this first pic, Ganapati has only been kept in place. During the first puja, the murthy is dressed with flowers and with the recitation of chants, sanctified with the divine presence.
(click for larger image)
Visiting the Sarvajanik (public) Ganapatis: