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Ganesha ushers in festive season

With 10-day-long celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi beginning on Sunday, country will usher in a season of festivals.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 20:56 IST

With the 10-Day-long celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi beginning on Sunday, the country will usher in a festive season that ends with Dussehra in October.

Colourful idols, marquees, hectic buying and selling and night long dancing - the excitement in Mumbai shows why the city is irrepressible as it decks up for the 10-day Ganpati festival that comes only weeks after a series of disasters.

Considered the biggest and most important of festival in Maharashtra, it marks Lord Ganesha's birthday on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar.

Millions of people - many from even outside Mumbai - take part in the Ganpati festival with the chants of "Ganpati Bappa Morya, Mangala Murti Morya" in praise of the elephant god reverberating throughout the city, especially on the 10th day when the idols are immersed into the sea.

Soon after the Ganpati festival ends, preparations for the Navratri festival gather momentum, with similar marquees - festival committees - springing up across Gujarat and Maharashtra in October.

Gujarat particularly savours the Navaratri festival with nine nights of song and dance, which sees the young and the old putting their best foot forward for the traditional garba or dandiya-raas dance.

The festival begins on the first day of Ashwina of the bright fortnight and on the eighth and ninth days, goddess Durga is worshipped and Vijayashtami and Mahanavami are celebrated.

The tenth day is the most important when Dussehra or Vijayadashami is celebrated with much gusto. October will also see the Diwali - the festival of light and firecrackers.

A private affair till the turn of last century, Ganpati was celebrated in homes and temples till the eminent freedom fighter Balgangadhar Tilak gave it the form of a public festival during the freedom struggle to broadcast his political message and to mobilise the people.

Carried out in the garb of a religious activity, it was difficult for the then British administration to curb it. The festival has since retained that form.

Keshavji Naik Chawl Ganeshotsav Mandal, instituted by Tilak in the Girgaon area in south Mumbai - remains the oldest with 113 years behind it.