The 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival started in Maharashtra on Tuesday, with idols of Lord Ganesh, the god of prosperity and wisdom being installed in homes and at pandals across the state with pomp and gaiety.
The public celebration of the festival in Maharashtra dates back to the 1890s when the nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and others decided to use it to mobilize the masses.
Ganesh mandals in Mumbai and other major cities of Maharashtra took large idols in processions accompanied by dhol-tasha beats to their pandals in the last few days.
Household Ganesh idols were brought mostly on Monday night or in the morning Tuesday with chants of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’.
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Devotees thronged vegetable and flower markets, sweet shops and roadside stalls for buying flowers, puja materials, sweets and decorative items.
Political leaders and film and television personalities also welcomed the deity to their homes.
The Ganesh Chaturthi festival began in Pune amid usual fanfare with prominent Ganesh mandals or the groups taking out big processions to welcome the lord.
Traditional Dhol-Tasha (drum) troupes accompanied the processions which began in the morning.
Mumbai’s GSB Seva Mandal’s ‘Mahaganpati’, renowned as possibly India’s richest idol and always the talk of the city for the opulent way it is decorated, is this year resplendent in 66.5 kilograms of gold ornaments, more than 295 kilograms of silver as well as other precious items.
The mandal, at King’s Circle in the eastern part of the city, is celebrating its 69th year and a first is the installation of facial recognition cameras as part of the security arrangements, a Mandal spokesperson said.
In Mumbai, more than 13,750 police personnel have been deployed for security during Ganesh festivities, an official said.
These comprise 11,726 constables, 2,024 officers from the rank of sub inspector to assistant commissioner and 15 deputy commissioners, he said.
”A large number of people are expected to be on the streets visiting pandals etc. The police is fully geared up to tackle any law and order issue,” he added.
Notifications issued by the traffic police listed several moves for smooth flow of vehicles in the metropolis, including ban on heavy vehicles on certain days.
”There will be a ban on operation of private buses and heavy vehicles in South Mumbai on September 21, 24, 26 and 29. Between September 19 and 29, all types of heavy vehicles are allowed to operate between midnight and 7.00 am, except September 21, 24, 26 and 29 in South Mumbai,” the official said.
”On September 20, 23 and 25, there will be complete restrictions for all types of heavy vehicles and private buses to enter and ply on roads from 11 am to 1 pm, except South Mumbai,” he added.
Immersion day will see a larger presence of police on the ground and manpower details were being chalked out, the official said.