Vinayakar chathurthi oru vazhia mudivuku vanthaachu. Inga vara varaikum mumbaila intha pandigaiya kondaadaratha pathi kelvi thaan patruken. Had a first hand account of the way they celebrate it this year. The way these people celebrate itself is a lesson for others to follow. Whatever they do, these guys do it wholeheartedly. "Dance like no one is watching" nu kelvi patrupeenga..they follow it to the letter. Ganesh chaturthi is a week long festival here.
On the first day they invite the lord to their home. They carry the idols in a procession to their home forming small band parties and dancing all the way home. They burst crackers, throw color powders, put loud songs be it bajans or remixes and dance merrily all the way home. The traffic comes to stand still. But no one complains. Anything for Ganesha. Even the irate traffic goer stops to offer his silent prayers. Some people finish of the rituals on the first day itself and get ready to immerse the lord in water on the second day itself, which they call it Visarjan. But in big pandals which are set up and run by societis they keep the idol for close to 6 days for public darshan and on the last day they again follow the procession rituals mentioned above for immersion.
The reason why all this started is totally unreligious. Balgangadhar tilak wanted to rally people and he used ganesh chathurthi as a key for bringing them out together. Its followed the sameway till this day. Even people from other communities organise pandals and bring in different styles of lord ganesha, designed like lord shiva, krishna and many other gods.
On the last day, they bring the lord in procession to whatever water body lies nearby, which by the way they keep it clean weeks in advance, and they perform all their poojas on the waterfront before immersing the idol. Theladies are the most vociferous of the crowd :) they enjoy shouting slogans..Sounds of "Ganpatibappa morya" fills the air. Its a sight to behold to see people coming out in large numbers with their families and kids and enjoying. It creates a very positive atmosphere. For a while smile flu and all other issues which dog the city are forgotten.
I somehow felt emotional on watching all those idols getting immersed in water :( Felt like crying watching all those ganeshas getting submerged. Like many of us, ganesha is my favourite god and whenever there is ganesh chathurthi at our house we never immerse the idol. We always keep it safely. I couldnt bear to see it being dissolved in water. Too painful a sight. And first time enga appa ilama pullayar chathurthi celebrations. Felt very weird. I've always been home for this festival wherever i used to be. First time missing it. Anyways..itho atho nu oru vazhia pullyar chathurthiyum mudinju poachu. Now begins the festival season. Eagerly looking forward to it :)