Mumbai: All set for Vighnaharta

The State is all set to welcome Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles (Vighnaharta).

In Mumbai alone, this year, around 17,700 registered associations will be celebrating Ganeshotsav, including 3,700 roadside mandals, with more than 300,000 idols on display.

Incidentally, this year Ganeshotsav coincides with the Jain holy month of fasting during Paryushan, the ongoing week-long Mt. Mary Church annual fair in Bandra and Muharram on September 8.

Among the traditionally popular and biggest idols shall be the famed Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbaicha Raja, Ganesh Gully, Borivali's Kastur Park, Sewricha Raja, Andhericha Raja, Fortcha Raja, Khetwadi 11 and 12 Lanes, Bandra, Sahyadri Mandal in Chembur and Shivaji Park and others.

The GSB Seva Mandal, Kings Circle, will unveil its medium-sized 14-feet idol, the 'richest' Ganesh in the world which attracts over a million visitors.

"This year, it is adorned with over 68 kg of 22-carat gold, 350 kg pure silver, besides expensive diamond-studded jewelleries, many articles donated by devotees," a proud GSBSM Trustee R.G. Bhat told IANS.

Millions of Konkan employees in cities like Mumbai, Thane, Pune and other places have left in droves for their small villages dotting the coastal districts, resulting in massive snarls on the only route -- the Mumbai-Goa Highway.

More than a million big, medium and small idols of Lord Ganesha shall adorn private homes of commoners, celebrities, industrialists, politicians, housing complexes, waadis/waadas, private and public companies, besides the gigantic ones at public marquees organized by the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandals across the state.

It is lamented that that there is a lack of sponsorships. Due to the current slowdown, growing unemployment, etc, there are few ads, banners or cash offerings from devotees, says BrihanMumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS) President Naresh Dahibhavkar.

Also, expenses have shot up with GST applicable from statue-to-marquee stages; overall inflation has hit all associations hard and forced the big ones to dip into their Reserve Fund to make ends meet.

Special prayers will be performed at various dedicated Ganesha temples, including the Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Ganesh Temples in Goregaon and Borivali and the 'Ashthavinayak Temples' in the state.

There are nearly 12,000 big-ticket Ganeshotsav associations with budgets of several crores of rupees -- or equivalent to that of small civic bodies, nearly 195,000 medium-scales with budgets ranging from Rs 500,000 to Rs 5 million and lakhs of individual households and other private organisers with small budgets of a few thousand rupees, said Dahibhavkar.

The pillars of the festival comprising flowers, sweets, fruits, dry-fruits, lights and decorations have also become very expensive and mandals are cutting corners to save and manage within limited budgets this year.

Besides commoners, Ganeshotsav also attracts huge attention of celebrities, like Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Nana Patekar, the Rishi Kapoor clan, Shilpa Shetty, Vivek Oberoi, the Anil Kapoor clan, Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Kahnna, Sanjay Dutt, Bappi Lahiri, Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia, Shreyas Talpade, etc.

All major politicians led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the families of Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray, Narayan Rane, Sharad Pawar clan, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, the Munde clan, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil clan, Sanjay Nirupam, ministers and elected representatives organise Ganeshotsav at their homes which are thrown open for all during the 10-day festivities.

Immersions of Ganesha idols will be taken up in phases, starting from September 3 and culminating in the grand finale on September 12.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has made special arrangements for domestic and foreign tourists with special bus ferries to important venues, walking trips, exclusive viewing galleries during immersion ceremonies and other activities for the next 10 days.

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