The cultural capital of Maharashtra came alive with religious fervour on Wednesday as thousands of people installed idols of Lord Ganesha at homes and public pandals marking the beginning of the ten-day celebrations.
The city, from where Lokmanya Tilak launched Ganesh festival 115 years ago to assert cultural identity of the nation during the freedom struggle, reveberated with the chants and hymns of the Elephant God.
Gaiety and enthusiasm marked the processions of Sarvajanik Mandals that carried the Ganesh idols to their respective localities where the volunteers worked diligently to erect pandals and set up decorations and scenes depicting various social, political and cultural themes.
In the backdrop of terrorists threat perception, police and district and civil authorities were taking special precautions by heightening security to deal with a heavy turn out of revelers and devotees in the next ten days, official sources said.
Notwithstanding initial reservations on security grounds, the authorities have decided to allow thousands of women devotees belonging to some 200 groups to undertake collective recitation of 'Atharvasheersha', the Vedic hymn devoted to Lord Ganesh in front of the famous Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Devsthan on Thursday.
The tradition of chanting 'Atharvasheersha' at the temple is two-decade-old and last year the ritual saw participation of over 16,000 women devotees.
A cultural extravaganza will also unfold on the occasion in the form of 'Pune Festival' which has become an attraction for many for its presentation of music, dance and art programmes, featuring artistes from different fields.