Meera at Seva Mandal Ganapati: Worth her weight in … bananas

pictures of Meera on the scales at the GSB Seva Mandal  by Arun Shanbhag

In a Hindu tradition called Tolay Bhaar families celebrate life events by offering their weight in fruits to the divine. These fruits are then served to devotees as prasad. At the GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati, this tradition takes on mammoth proportions where 1000’s of devotees offer everything from the more traditional coconuts, bananas or modak/appams (the sweet dollop made during Ganapati festivals), to gold or silver jewelry.

During the past year, we got a wonderful opportunity to perform Meera’s Tolay Bhaar (roughly translates to: scales are full) at the GSB Seva Mandal in Mumbai. The weighing scales are setup in front of the Ganapati murthy, giving the devotee an unimpeded darshan. Despite my concerns, Meera sat quietly and (eerily) focused in darshan, the entire time she was on the scales. Continue reading “Meera at Seva Mandal Ganapati: Worth her weight in … bananas”

Ganapati Visarjan: Wadala & Lalbaug cha Raja

GSB Muth Wadala Ganapati 2011 Amol Kamat
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.
Continue reading “Ganapati Visarjan: Wadala & Lalbaug cha Raja”

Ganapati at the GSB Muth, Wadala

Ganapati at GSB Wadala by Arun Shanbhag

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.
Continue reading “Ganapati at the GSB Muth, Wadala”

Ganapati at GSB Seva Mandal

pictures of GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati 2011 2012 by Arun Shanbhag

The GSB Seva Mandal is one of the largest Sarvajanik (public) Ganapati celebrations in Mumbai. The murthy is 14 ft tall and all pujas ( devotional services) are performed in Sanskrit following traditions prescribed in ancient scriptures. See pics from our 2009 visit here.
Continue reading “Ganapati at GSB Seva Mandal”

Ganesh Chaturthi 2009

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.

See an earlier post for a brief background on Ganapati.


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.
Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganapati puja, Aarti, Ganapati Aarti Arun Shanbhag
(click for larger image)

During aarti on the last (5th) day.
Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganapati puja, Aarti, Ganapati Aarti by Arun Shanbhag


Visiting the Sarvajanik (public) Ganapatis:
Continue reading “Ganesh Chaturthi 2009”

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