Ganesha Chaturthi in Mumbai

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Ganesha Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrated to honour the Elephant headed god, Lord Ganesha. The usual dates are between 19th of August and 20th of September. This year, the celebrations started on 29th of August.

Clay idols of varying sizes, of Lord Ganesha are worshipped in every corner of the nation. Some Ganeshas are so huge that container trucks are used to carry them. NASA’s Space shuttle carriers may seem small in front of Lord Ganesha.

The entire nation celebrates this festival with great splendor. One city well known for the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations is Mumbai! The display of Ganeshas in Mumbai is absolutely stunning. Though the festival is celebrated everywhere, the excitement, rush, intensity is quite humungous in the state of Maharashtra. Here, not only Hindus, but also people belonging to other religions take part in the celebrations.

Children run through the streets yelling “Ganapati Bappa Moryaaa”, elders are busy in decorating the Ganesha idol, there’s tasty food in every house, and the whole of Mumbai’s traffic comes to a halt (except the local trains of course). On this day I walked around 3 kms to the train station, in half an hour. A taxi would take more time to get there.

The visarjan/immersion of the Ganesha idols are performed on specific dates,

One and half day visarjan, three day visarjan, five day visarjan, seven day visarjan and the 10th day Visarjan. In Mumbai, around 150,000 Ganesha idols are immersed each year.

Chowpatty and Juhu are the most famous locations for Ganesha visarjan in Mumbai. The statues are either carried on small carts or loaded onto huge trucks, and then the procession begins. Schools declare holiday and offices close early on the last day of Ganesha Visarjan as the entire city would be flooded with devotees headed towards the sea.

The Ganesha Visarjan signifies the cycle of birth and death, and that we all eventually give up our physical form and become one with the elements of nature. 

Here are some pictures from the Ganesha visarjan that took place on August 30, 2014, at Juhu Chowpatty, Mumbai.

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People on their way to immerse Lord Ganesha

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A family photo

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More and more people coming in as it gets darker

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Two Ganesha idols waiting to give up their physical form and become one with the elements of nature.

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Some leave the idols where the wave breaks, but some dare to carry their Lord deep into the sea.

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The Ganapati Maharaj being carried into the sea.

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An idol that was immersed but the waves brought him back.

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The Ganapati Maharaj

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Another Ganesha idol brought back by the waves.

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Decapitated Ganesha

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The crowd at Juhu Chowpatty, Mumbai.

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Sand sculpture of Lord Ganesha

Visiting Mumbai

This is the city that never sleeps. The roads are never empty. The babies cry all day. Vehicles bump into each other every now and then, and in some corner there will always be that one person abusing the traffic or his life or the crow that just shat on his head. Between 7am and 10am, you can see a number of corporate fellows, school children, college students, and many busy bees neatly dressed and hurrying to their destinations. They take enough care not to step into a puddle and dirty their dress. But once in a while a black Taxi speeds by and runs over that puddle and you know the rest.

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Local Rail is the life here. The trains are horrendously full during weekdays, and at the same time they are the quickest means of transport here. A train may take 5 minutes to reach a place where as a taxi may take a little more than 50 minutes to reach the same place. So, the large crowd, the pushing, hitting, and stamping maybe a worthy compromise to travel cheap and quick.
Mumbai is like the Times Square, but, with a lot of slums co-existing. A child would say, “There are big big buildings, and big big slums as well”. Cleanliness and filth coexist here and mind one’s own business.

When it comes to food, “Vada Pav” and “Pav Bhaji” are the best items you can get here. There is also the Gola which is quite good. Chowpatty beach has amazing food stalls.

If you ever get to Mumbai, you should never miss The Marine Drive. A road that runs along the coast and is nicely lit every evening. You can sit on the walls and watch the sun go down. Never mind the numerous couples cuddling right next to you. The hotel “Trident” also along the marine drive, looks beautiful at night. The Gateway of India is a usual tourist spot (a terrorist spot as well during the 26/11 attacks) and right next to it, there is The Taj hotel. Trident and Taj were the victims of the 26/11 terrorist attacks.

At night, when half the city sleeps, there is another half crawling on the streets, or working night shifts, or walking in shady areas, minding their own business and earning a living, hoping that tomorrow’s sunrise will be better than today’s.