Ganesh Visarjan 2016: After 11 days of elaborate puja and celebrations centred around Ganesh Chaturthi, the state of Maharashtra, where the entire process is at its most elaborate, devotees are bidding goodbye to Lord Ganesha with the traditional visarjan. The Ganeshotsav festive period continued for over 10 days and each day saw intricate puja and celebrations being conducted as devotees looked to show their devotion to their favourite god. So, from elaborately decked out pandals and even more glitzily made out statues of gods, the worshippers left no stone unturned to make this occasion as special as could be. Now, that the festival has come to an end, with all due care, the statues of Lord Ganesh will be taken to the nearest beach and will be floated out (11th day). Among them will be standout statues like ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ and ‘Mumbaicha Raja’ – the entire process will take till late evening to conclude. Hundreds of thousands of people will line the streets of the state where these idols will pass and they will all be bidding farewell to their god.
As is usually the case, Mumbai managed to put up the best of displays – from large statues of Lord Ganesh to even larger pandals, all of them were decked out in beautiful finery for all to see. And to appreciate the same, the citizens of this metropolis were seen congregating at these venues, most even going venue-hopping, in appreciation of the great artistic value and craftsmanship. In fact, the city barely sleeps during this festive period as almost all pandals and the surrounding tents were seen full of people who were chanting bhajans in deep concentration. The ability to stay focussed in all the crowds and the noise and still manage to continue to follow the entire process led by priests is a marvel worth beholding for all.
However, before the actual visarjan or immersion of idols actually happens, the statues have to go through the process known as ‘Uttar Pooja’. In fact, whether it is a small idol at home. or the largest of them on the streets and parks, all have to be ritually cleared for the immersion process. However, there is no particular place picked for visarjan. It can happen anywhere – at home or elsewhere, the only requirement is that it should be done with suitable vidhi/vidhaan/rituals.
Considering that this is a massive exercise, authorities make suitable preparations to prevent accidents. In fact, deaths and injuries are frequent during the visarjan as huge statues are dismantled and are then carted all the way to the sea on the strength of the devotees’ muscle-power alone – the believers number in the thousands. The possibility of something going wrong is great. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Fire Brigade, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Mumbai Police, all the other civic authorities, dog squads, and much else is deployed to ensure everything passes off without a glitch.
Worryingly for the authorities, there was early morning rain that complicated the entire process. Wet roads and equipment add to the complications and increase the chances of accidents. These add to traffic jams on the roads and add hours to the process that already takes a long time to conclude. While the Arabian Sea is the most popular, devotees will also be heading out to other beaches, reservoirs or other water bodies and small rivers.
In Mumbai, some of the most important visarjan areas are Girgaum Chowpatty, Juhu Chowpatty, Dadar Chowpatty, Versova, Madh Island, Manori, Marve, and Gorai. Usually, devotees follow their traditional paths fo visarjan and rarely, if ever, change course.