Ganesh Pictures: 31 Stunning Photos of India's Ganesh Festival

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    Ganesh Festival Introduction

    Family during Ganesh festival.
    ••• Hemant Mehta/Getty Images

     

    Held in August/September each year, depending on the cycle of the moon, the very popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival celebrates the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. Ganesha, also fondly referred to as Ganpati, is popularly worshiped for his ability to remove obstacles and bring good fortune.

    The festival begins with the installation of huge elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha in homes and canopied podiums (called pandals), which have been especially constructed and beautifully decorated. Artisans put months of effort into making the statues. The statues are then worshiped for various durations of up to 12 days, before being immersed in water.

    Mumbai is one of the best places to experience the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Around 10,000 statues of Lord Ganesh are displayed at various locations in the city. Other Indian states that also widely celebrate the festival include Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

    Scroll through this photo gallery to see...MORE how the festival is celebrated.

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    The Making of Lord Ganesh

    A workshop in Parel in Mumbai.
    ••• A workshop in Parel in Mumbai. Sharell Cook.

    The labor-intensive process of handcrafting idols of Lord Ganesh gets underway about three months before the start of the festival. It takes place in roadside workshops that pop up under blue tarpaulins, as well as in larger dedicated spaces. If you're interested in the process, it's possible to see the statues being crafted. Read more about Where to See Mumbai Ganesh Idols Being Made.

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    A Large Ganesh Workshop in Mumbai

    Making Lord Ganesh
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    The idols of Lord Ganesh are mostly crafted out of plaster of Paris, although growing awareness about the environment is leading to more eco-friendly clay idols. The large idols are so big that they require scaffolding to be erected! Find out more in this Walk Through of Idol Making Workshops in Mumbai.

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    Painting Lord Ganesh

    Painting Lord Ganesh.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    Painting the idols and bringing them to life is a delicate and time-consuming process.

     

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    Decorating Lord Ganesh

    Decorating Lord Ganesh.
    ••• NurPhoto / Getty Images

    Great care is taken during the decorating process. These Ganesh idols are being produced by Gulbai Tekra, the single largest supplier of Ganesh idols in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. It's estimated to have about 1,200 idol makers.

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    Stalls Selling Idols of Lord Ganesh

    Ganesh stall.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    As the start of the festival approaches, numerous roadside stalls appear selling a wide variety of idols.
     

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    Ganesh Idols for Sale

    Ganesh Idols
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    These small Ganesh idols with be purchased by people for installation and worship in their homes.

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    A Small Personal Ganesh Idol

    Small Ganesh idol.
    ••• Hemant Mehta/Getty Images

    This small Ganesh idol has been installed and decorated with flowers.

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    Hindu Priests Attend to an Idol

    Hindu priests attend Ganesh.
    ••• Richard I'Anson/Getty Images

    Large Ganesh idols are transported by truck and installed on decorated podiums (pandals) that the public can visit. Hindu priests prepare the idol of Lord Ganesh during the installation process and get it ready for worship.

     

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    A Public Ganesh Pandal

    Ganesh Pandal.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    These displays can be found on roadsides and at the end of streets all over the city during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

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    Peaceful Lord Ganesh

    Ganesh festival.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    The pandals are so peaceful and inviting, it's easy to forget the traffic and noise outside!

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    Each Display is Different

    Ganesh festival.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    Plus, it's exciting to see all the different designs of the idols.

     

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    Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai

    Lalbaugcha Raja.
    ••• Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images.

    Mumbai is known for its huge and lavish displays of Lord Ganesh, with unique themes each year. The most popular one is the Lalbaugcha Raja. Discover 5 Famous Mumbai Ganesh Mandals.

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    Ganesh Idol Ready for Worship

    Ganesh festival.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    Many apartment complexes also install an idol for residents to worship.

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    Lord Ganesh and His Mouse

    Ganesh.
    ••• Sharell Cook

    A gray mouse stands to the right of the statue. The mouse is known as Lord Ganesh's vehicle, which carries him around. The fact that he rides on such a small creature signifies the unity of the small with the large. The mouse, being such a small and agile creature, is also able to find it's way unobstructed through the narrowest of spaces. 

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    Lord Ganesh Aarti Ceremony

    Ganesh aarti
    ••• Sharell Cook

    At set times of the day Hindu priests perform an aarti ceremony (worship with fire), which the public can attend and participate in.

     

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    Taking Lord Ganesh for Immersion

    Ganesh on truck.
    ••• Kiran Chorge/Getty Images

    On the last day of the festival, the statues of Ganesh are taken down from their podiums, loaded onto the back of trucks, and paraded through the streets towards the ocean or other water bodies in energetic processions. This culminates in the statues being immersed in the water, in a ritual called visarjan.

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    Ganesh Festival Drummers

    Ganesh festival drummers.
    ••• CR Shelare/Getty Images

    The processions through the streets are accompanied by a lot of loud drumming to farewell the Lord.

     

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    Dancing in the Streets

    Dancing in the street.
    ••• Richard I'Anson/Getty Images

    There's also exuberant dancing in the street as the statues of Lord Ganesh make their way to be immersed.

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    Dancing into the Night

    Dancing in the streets.
    ••• Kuni Takahashi / Getty Images

    The processions to farewell Lord Ganesh usually continue through the night. Even the last of the monsoon rain doesn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm.

     

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    Lalbaugcha Raja Street Procession

    Mumbai Lalbaugcha Raja procession.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    The immersion procession for the hugely popular Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai sees the streets filled with devotees.

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    Lalbaugcha Raja Close-Up

    Lalbaugcha Raja closeup.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    The Lalbaugcha Raja has numerous attendants to look after him as he goes on his journey to the ocean to be immersed.

     

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    Idols Arrive for Immersion in Mumbai

    Ganesh idols in Mumbai.
    ••• lsprasath photography/Getty Images

    The arrival of towering Ganesh idols at Girgaum Chowpatty on Marine Drive in Mumbai is spectacular to watch, particular against the sunset cityscape.  Read more about Ganesh Visaran (Immersion) in Mumbai.

     

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    Large Idols Waiting to be Immersed

    Large Ganesh idols waiting to be immersed.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    The large idols must wait on the foreshore to be immersed.

     

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    Large Ganesh Idols Being Immersed

    Large Ganesh idols being immersed.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    The immersion process for all the idols is lengthy and goes on all night, finally concluding the next morning.

     

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    Small Idols Arrive for Immersion

    Small ganesh idol visarjan.
    ••• CR Shelare/Getty Images

    Small Ganesh idols are carried on trolleys to be immersed in the sea at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai.

     

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    A Final Prayer to Lord Ganesh

    Prayer to Lord Ganesh.
    ••• Richard I'Anson/Getty Images

    A young man whispers one last prayer to Lord Ganesh before finally saying goodbye.

     

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    Taking Small Ganesh Idols into the Water

    Ganesh immersion.
    ••• CR Shelare/Getty Images

    The small idols of Lord Ganesh are easily carried into the water.

     

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    Lord Ganesh Carried Out into the Water

    Immersion of Lord Ganesh.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    It's a team effort to ensure that Lord Ganesh is carefully immersed in the water. Some larger idols are carried out on pontoons.
     

     

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    A Solitary Ganesh Idol

    Ganesh immersion.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images
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    The Aftermath

    Ganesh idol washed ashore.
    ••• Paddy Photography/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, most Ganesh idols are not eco-friendly. They're made from Plaster of Paris and instead of naturally dissolving in the ocean, their broken parks often wash ashore.