Ganesh Sakpal passed out of RA Podar five years ago but he still goes back every year to participate in its Ganapati celebrations. For the last 60 years, the college established in 1941, has been bringing the elephant god on campus with great fanfare.
City colleges are preparing for the festival with dance, drama and music.
At Podar College a special committee is formed every year for the festival and becoming the secretary of the committee is a matter of prestige.
"I have worked with the mandal since my first year in junior college and have finally become secretary. This year our theme is based on freedom fighter Veer Savarkar," said Mayuresh Wavhal, a commerce student. The mandal collects Rs 11 or Rs 21 from students and Rs 51 from faculty for the idol and decorations.
"It is a celebration of Marathi culture," said Wavhal before adding that they perform to "decent" songs and not "item" numbers. Sakpal, too, was secretary of the mandal. "Being part of the mandal is something I cherish, which is why I go back every year with my batch mates. We even advise the current committee on how to organise things," he said.
Colleges look at it as part of cultural education. "When Lokmanya Tilak started the tradition there was a huge cultural element to it and that is something we want to revive," said Kavita Rege, principal, Sathaye College.
At Sathaye College, social organisations and students organise the five-day festival called Mumbai Ganesh Sanskrutik Mahautsav. In its second year, the event has programmes on Hindustani classical music and Marathi theatre.
At the Indian Institute of Technology–Bombay (IIT-B), Powai, Ganesh Utsav is celebrated with a workshop on eco-ganpatis. "We invite students from neighbouring schools and teach them to make eco-friendly idols," said Jaya Joshi from IIT-B.
The Save Powai lake team, comprising students and faculty of IIT-B and other Powai residents, organises the workshop that will be held from September 7 to 10 this year.
For Radhakrishna Kamat, with his family far away in his ancestral village, the canteen manager of Ruparel College could not go home every year for Ganpati, so he started getting the idol to the canteen. This has become tradition with students and alumni coming for their share of blessings.
"It has been 30 years and now for me this canteen is more home for Ganpati during the five days than my village," he said.