As the Capital comes alive today with the festive fervour of Ganesh Chaturthi, the city will see various festivities hosted by 22 Marathi mandals (committees) in the 11 days to come. The celebrations will see live Lavni performances, colourful puja pandals and yummy modaks.
“There are about 2.5 lakh Marathis settled in the Capital, who celebrate this festival by offering prayers to the Lord and with live performances and special events,” says Kunal Mahajani, manager of Brihan Maharashtra Bhawan in Paharganj. The bhawan will also put up a Ganesha pandal where devotees can pay their offerings.
The most popular pandals in the city are known to be those in the Uttam Nagar and Lakshmi Nagar areas of the Capital. “These pandals are known for their idols, which are made by a special type of mud only found in Maharashtra,” says Hemant Khopar, a member of the Brihan Maharashtra Mandal.
This year, Dilli Haat in Pitampura and INA will be holding an 11-day-long festival, which will include poetry recitation, dancing and singing contests, and one act play performances, along with a special bazaar that will feature goods and food from Maharashtra. “The events at Dilli Haat would be a special attraction of the festivities in the city,” says Vrunda Dixit, a member of the Maratha Mitra Mandal in Karol Bagh.
Modak, a dumpling made from flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, and dry fruits, form a special part of the celebration and is available at most sweet shops in the city. However, Nashi Kar, a resident of Ghaziabad and a member of the mandal, makes special customised orders for Modaks, specially for the festival. “I start taking orders a month before the festivities begin. I make modaks at home, and the size and price depends on the choice of the customer,” he says.
At Trimourti, Maharashtra Emporium, the festival is celebrated here every year with a special bazaar. It includes items that are specific to the colourful festival. “The best seller here are the Ganesha idols, which are available in different sizes,” says a store manager. The special attraction here is the Modaks that are priced Rs. 250 for 11. Other things sold here include the abhushan (jewellry) and vastra (clothes) of the Ganesha idol and home decoration material.
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The final tribute
The festival is kicked off with the installation of the Ganesha idol in pandals or mandapas. On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession, accompanied with dancing, singing and fanfare to be immersed in the river Yamuna at the Kalindi Kunj Ghaat. The ceremony symbolises a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees.