August is a month of long weekends and if you are looking to be a part of a grand cultural celebration then Mumbai should be your priority. The city is adorned in its carnivalesque glory during the celebration of its biggest festival, Ganesh Chaturthi. It is a long 10-day celebration of cultural togetherness, colorful street processions, and sincere sanctity.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India and especially in Maharashtra on the occasion of the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. The people from Maharashtra consider the deity as the head of the family who visits once a year to ensure the well-being of the family.
Celebrations Then and Now
The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi can be traced back to the rule of Maratha King Shivaji when it was observed as a spiritual and religious affair. Later, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, one of the most prominent nationalist freedom fighters, brought a major change in the way the festival is celebrated. He wanted Ganesh Chaturthi celebration to be a grand, spectacular public event which will instill a feeling of belonging-ness within the community. The celebration was seen as a confluence of people from all castes and creed when public gatherings were prohibited by the British Raj.
However, with time the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi has changed. It still holds its traditional essence but there is an increased sense of healthy rivalry going on between various local communities to put up the best display for the grand celebration. Awards and acclaims are given to the localities who put up the best idol or spectacular art installations. This not only encourages community participation but also attracts thousands of travelers from across the world to visit Mumbai during this time.
Watch as the Artists Create Masterpieces
If you want to revel in the complete experience of Ganesh Chaturthi then arrive early. The heavy pouring rain has been replaced with light showering interludes by the end of July. Therefore, you can turn up at the factories to watch the brilliant artisans from all over Maharashtra molding and decorating idols with conviction. You can also avail conducted tours of the idol manufacturing factories if you want to savor the whole experience. You can strike up a conversation with the artisans to know more about the idol-making process. In fact, there are several workshops around the city that offer crash courses at idol making during this time of the year.
Worship with the Community
As the 10-days long celebration begins you can see the streets are decorated impeccably with incandescent lights. The grandiose pandals are crowded with devotees, travelers, and enthusiasts. You can also try to befriend a native to experience the homely celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. The idols are brought home with absolute enthusiasm and by dancing to the tune of drum beats. The celebration is often incomplete without savoring the delicious modaks or the sweetmeats that are an essential part of the ritual.
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Wander around the city
Another way of experiencing the festivities is to visit the most popular pandals also known as mandalas to witness the craftsmanship of the artisans. Some of the most prominent mandalas around Mumbai are Lalbaugcha Raja, Ganesh Galli Mumbaicha Raja, KhetwadiGanraj, GSB Seva Kings Circle and Andhericha Raja. These mandalas not only excel for the art installations in the pandals but their Ganesh Idols will remain etched in your memory for a long time.
Warm-up for the Immersion Dance
The immersion of the Ganesha idol is usually done on the 1st, 5th, 7th or 10th day of the celebration. Every corner of Mumbai is decorated with lights, garlands and the people are enthralled with the spirit of celebration. The drum beats and the dancing together creates a carnivalesque atmosphere that no one can escape from. People dance during the visarjan as if no one is watching and you can also be a part of this grand road carnival. All you need is a spirit to be a part of the festival and you are welcome to the party.
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Where to Stay in Mumbai?
The accommodation options around the city are plentiful. From luxury hotels to budget hotels, everything is within your reach. If you are planning to stay within budget but cannot compromise with the services offered then brands like TreeboBudget Hotels in Mumbai will be your best friend. With quality amenities, free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, and situated at convenient locations all around the city, Treebo promises great hospitality while you visit the ‘city of dreams’.
There you go! Plan you August wisely and be a part of the grand carnival of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai.