The 10-day-long Ganpati festival may have just begun, but Sunday saw Mumbaikars come out in large numbers to bid adieu to 51,848 Ganpati idols, which were immersed at various locations across the city. While 135 idols were from public mandals, the remaining 51,713 were domestic idols from households.
The main immersion spots in the city — Girgaum, Dadar and Juhu beaches — were flooded with people chanting farewell bhajans. "The feeling of saying goodbye to Ganpati Bappa won’t sink in now. We will only feel it after we return home empty-handed," said Mahesh Sawant, whose family was one of the many waiting to do the visarjan at Juhu beach.
At Girgaum Chowpatty, while several Hindu families were performing the Ganpati visarjan, there were many Muslim families dressed in their finery, celebrating the Eid weekend. "The immersions were all very well organised," said Dheeraj Solanki, a staff member of St George’s Hospital, which has been keeping a one-and-half day Ganpati for the past 17 years.
However, apart from the usual festivities, the highlight of this year’s immersion was the conspicuous effort by devotees as well as organisers to go eco-friendly. At the entrance of Girgaum Chowpatty’s visarjan section, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Clean Up team stood with a barrier of green bins for segregating flowers and other offerings.
"We have been using quick-soluble clay for our idol ever since we began celebrating the festival," said Girish Mistry, a photographer from Marine Drive, who made sure that his idol was immersed deep into the sea, so as to prevent it from being washed ashore.
Also, not everyone was heading to the city’s beaches or water bodies for immersion. Residents of Khar’s Deccan Society performed an eco-friendly visarjan by creating a pit in their compound, where five idols from the locality were immersed. "Our Ganpati will dissolve in the water and become a part of the earth by tomorrow," said Namrata Kanwar, who started this practice two years ago.
Now, more families in the society have chosen to immerse their Ganpatis in similar fashion. "Those Ganpatis that are not completely soluble, or take time to dissolve will be cleared by the BMC tomorrow afternoon," said Vikram Luhadia, the society secretary.