POMP AND pageantry marked the Anant Chaturdashi procession as thousands of devout residents descended on the City streets to bid adieu to their favourite deity - the elephant-headed Ganesh.
Float after stupendous float glided majestically down the 13-kilometre long procession route accompanied by loud crackers, louder drums and blaring music, adding up to decibel levels that could have easily bested the famed juggernaut in Puri.
The hypnotic effect created by thousands of multi-hued, incessantly blinking kaleidoscope of lights that left onlookers mesmerised completed the mise-en-scene.
Every conceivable inch of land was taken up by thousands of bystanders strung along the stretch of road from Malwa Mill to Chimanbag, Jail Road and Krishnapura Chhatri.
A majority of the floats were based on Hindu myths like the slaying of Raktabeej (whose every drop of blood falling on the ground resulted in the creation of 1,000 asuras), Ram's partaking of Shabari's humble offering and the tale of Krishna entering Radha's residence in the guise of a bangle-seller.
Others, like the Rajkumar Mill float, at 71 years the second oldest tableau, focussed on patriotism. The two-part tableau depicts the hanging of revolutionary Mangal Pandey and the exhortation to Prithviraj Chauhan by his friend Chandvardai to throw off the invader Mohammed Ghauri.
Organisations like the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) and IDA combined religious symbology with an appeal for environmental conservation in their tableaux.
One of the Corporation's pageants depicts Mayor Uma Shashi Sharma planting neem saplings, a reference to her oft-repeated promise to turn Indore into Neem City.
The he 81st edition of the three-part Hukumchand Mill tableau depicting Ahilya Devi cradling a Shivlinga in front of the majestic Rajwada, twelve revolving lingams representing the jyotirlingas presided over by Sheshnag (the hydra-headed serpent god) performing jalabhishek and Ganesha's baraat featuring Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and frolicking mice distributing laddoos came in for special applause.
Patriotic tableaux created by the Malwa Mill Ganeshotsav Samiti and the IDA pageants also drew loud gasps of admiration from the bystanders for their attractive lighting and life-like imagery.
Meanwhile, tinier processions comprising small Ganesh idols held aloft or on motorised vehicles ran parallel to the floats and the statues were deposited at the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) stall at Rajwada. These will be taken for immersion on the banks of the Narmada at Morttakka, 65 kilometres from here. The last batch of idols will be taken for immersion on Thursday.
Earlier, a carnival atmosphere prevailed at Rajwada as, finally finding a little elbow space the merry band of revellers danced uninhibitedly and with an abandon that would have been the envy of the most seasoned disco zombie.
Hundreds of snacks and food sellers had gathered along the procession route. And not one had cause to complain. Exhausted after the vigorous exercise the dancers fell upon the food with an alacrity that must have found immediate favour with the pot-bellied Ganesh.
The floats wound their way from Malwa Mill to Chimanbag, Jail Road, MG Road, Krishnapura, Nandlalpura, Jawahar Marg, Yeshwant Road and then on to Rajwada before making it back to their starting point.
Amid all the revelry there was a touch of gloom too. This came in the form of those who had to forsake the celebrations in the line of duty. Policemen, IMC staffers, medical and paramedical staff who, despite being in the middle of it all, had to be on the other side of the celebrations.
“We have to forget about friends, relatives and festivals. Its only work for us while the rest are enjoying the holiday,” said Raja Vishwakarma an IMC employee. “Perhaps next year I'll will get a chance to join the revelry,” he adds wistfully. The very thought making his chants for the Lord's early return next year a little bit shriller.
Busy day for sanitation staff
INDORE MUNICIPAL Corporation sanitation workers were hard at work since the crack of dawn in a bid to fill the craters created along the procession route by the heavy downpour that lashed the City last night.
Acting upon the Indore Development Authority's instructions the Corporation set about filling potholes and sprucing up parallel routes so as to reduce the traffic burden on MG Road.
The sanitation staff had an equally busy day incessantly brushing, sweeping and carting off muck and slush from the 13-kilometre long route.