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Ganesh Festival Introduction
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... how the festival is celebrated.Continue to 2 of 31 below.
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The Making of Lord Ganesh
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.Continue to 3 of 31 below.
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A Large Ganesh Workshop in Mumbai
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.Continue to 4 of 31 below.
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Painting Lord Ganesh
Painting the idols and bringing them to life is a delicate and time-consuming process.Continue to 5 of 31 below.
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Decorating Lord Ganesh
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.Continue to 6 of 31 below.
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Stalls Selling Idols of Lord Ganesh
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
These small Ganesh idols with be purchased by people for installation and worship in their homes.Continue to 8 of 31 below.
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A Small Personal Ganesh Idol
This small Ganesh idol has been installed and decorated with flowers.Continue to 9 of 31 below.
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Hindu Priests Attend to an Idol
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.Continue to 10 of 31 below.
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A Public Ganesh Pandal
These displays can be found on roadsides and at the end of streets all over the city during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.Continue to 11 of 31 below.
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Peaceful Lord Ganesh
The pandals are so peaceful and inviting, it's easy to forget the traffic and noise outside!Continue to 12 of 31 below.
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Each Display is Different
Plus, it's exciting to see all the different designs of the idols.Continue to 13 of 31 below.
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Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai
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.Continue to 14 of 31 below.
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Ganesh Idol Ready for Worship
Many apartment complexes also install an idol for residents to worship.Continue to 15 of 31 below.
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Lord Ganesh and His Mouse
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.Continue to 16 of 31 below.
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Lord Ganesh Aarti Ceremony
At set times of the day Hindu priests perform an aarti ceremony (worship with fire), which the public can attend and participate in.Continue to 17 of 31 below.
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Taking Lord Ganesh for Immersion
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.Continue to 18 of 31 below.
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Ganesh Festival Drummers
The processions through the streets are accompanied by a lot of loud drumming to farewell the Lord.Continue to 19 of 31 below.
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Dancing in the Streets
There's also exuberant dancing in the street as the statues of Lord Ganesh make their way to be immersed.Continue to 20 of 31 below.
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Dancing into the Night
The processions to farewell Lord Ganesh usually continue through the night. Even the last of the monsoon rain doesn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm.Continue to 21 of 31 below.
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Lalbaugcha Raja Street Procession
The immersion procession for the hugely popular Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai sees the streets filled with devotees.Continue to 22 of 31 below.
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Lalbaugcha Raja Close-Up
The Lalbaugcha Raja has numerous attendants to look after him as he goes on his journey to the ocean to be immersed.Continue to 23 of 31 below.
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Idols Arrive for Immersion in Mumbai
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.Continue to 24 of 31 below.
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Large Idols Waiting to be Immersed
The large idols must wait on the foreshore to be immersed.Continue to 25 of 31 below.
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Large Ganesh Idols Being Immersed
The immersion process for all the idols is lengthy and goes on all night, finally concluding the next morning.Continue to 26 of 31 below.
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Small Idols Arrive for Immersion
Small Ganesh idols are carried on trolleys to be immersed in the sea at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai.Continue to 27 of 31 below.
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A Final Prayer to Lord Ganesh
A young man whispers one last prayer to Lord Ganesh before finally saying goodbye.Continue to 28 of 31 below.
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Taking Small Ganesh Idols into the Water
The small idols of Lord Ganesh are easily carried into the water.Continue to 29 of 31 below.
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Lord Ganesh Carried Out into the Water
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 IdolContinue to 31 of 31 below.
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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.