For the 3 am aarti at his Goregaon Mandap, Rishikesh Palkar ensured that he double checked all preparations. Tuesday marks the first day of the Ganpati festival that will be celebrated across the city with much fanfare.
Like Palkar's, prominent Ganpati mandals are making it a point to ensure that devotees can seek blessings early. While GSB King Circle looks to have earlier pran pratishtha (ready for prayers) pooja at around 5-5.30 am, Lalbaug will have it by 6-6.30 am and so is the case in case of Ganpati at Ganesh Gulli.
"Around 6 am we will do the Puja after which devotees can take darshan," said Balasaheb Kamble, president Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. Kamble said that 100 odd people had already started lining up from Monday itself. "We have made arrangements so that the darshan is faster and smoother. Tea, coffee and snacks will also be offered to the Lord."
This year, the BMC has given permission to 2,729 Ganpati mandals across the city from the 3,737 applications it had received. "In some cases applications were made by different people from the same mandal so we have given only one permission. That is the reason the number is less," said Ramakant Biradar, deputy municipal commissioner incharge of the Ganpati festival.
The BMC is supporting an eco-Ganpati festival and has taken a series of initiatives and awareness programs. "We had provided 400 metric tonnes of shadu mati (clay) to idol makers and provided space free of cost. This year the number of artificial ponds has increased to 191," said Biradar.
Due to awareness, eco-friendly idols have been in greater demand both at the Sarvajanik and household level. Prominent murtikars said that they saw more orders this year. "The number of household Ganpatis is around 2.5 lakhs. Even at my house there is an eco-friendly Ganpati. We have requested all to ensure that they follow rules, maintain cleanliness and have separate queues for women if possible," said Naresh Dahibhaukar, president of Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Samanvay Samiti.
The Andhericha Raja Ganpati has also made sure that they continue with their dress code. "Our dress code has been in place for years. Men and women both are not allowed shorts and skirts," said Uday Salian, spokesperson of Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti which is popularly known as Andhericha Raja.
Andhericha Raja, Lalbaug, Ganesh Galli are some prominent mandals that are having the 350th year of Shivaji Maharaj's coronation as its theme. In Fort, the theme is of Ram Mandir. "We are also having havan for Ram Mandir and Chandrayaan," said Vijay Kamath, president of GSB Seva Mandal, King Circle. While prominent mandals do all to make the festival a grand affair, devotees make it a point to not miss out either. "I look forward to visiting some of the Mandals after my one and half day Ganpati goes to Visarjan. It is something we have been doing since childhood. I like to see the themes and decorations put up by them," said Ketaki Naik, a devotee.