As the lifeguard stepped backwards deeper into the water, Neha Jain ensured she managed to capture every move before the Lord Ganpati's idol was immersed. At Girgaon Chowpatty, Jain had come to give company to her neighbours, whose one-and-a-half-day Ganpati was being immersed.
"It has been 30 years since we got Ganpati at our home. For the last two years, there were restrictions, so it felt nice to come again this year," said Dhiresh Chauhan, resident of Sewri. Chauhan took a day off from work and came with his entire family. "Now there will be sadness and the absence of the Lord will be felt at home," said Chauhan who tried artificial ponds but switched back to Chowpatty for being closer to "nature" and the arrangement in place.
"The crowd seems to be as it used to be before COVID. "As the day passes, the numbers will increase drastically," said one lifeguard waiting to take the idol of a person before the final Puja.
Devotees blew coonch, did aartis, and shouted as the Lord was taken for immersion. Lifeguards blew whistles from watch towers if they felt those immersing the idol were going too deep. People got enthralled and waved at them the moment a helicopter flew past. "We had two Ganpatis. Every year we have one Ganpati of the Navas (wish fulfilling) and another one. Both are eco-friendly. "It was nice to come here after two years to relive the tradition," said Sadi Pradnya Patil, a resident of Peddar Road whose family has been coming for nearly 50 years.
For those who, like Naresh Dahibhaukar, have been pushing for an eco-friendly celebration, he will be attending an artificial pond."In our house we have Ganpati made of banana and paper. It is made by the same maker of Vile Parle's Peshwa. Every time people would ask why not an eco-friendly celebration, so this time I am doing it twice over, "said Naresh Dahibhaukar.
Vile Parle's Peshwa is 21 feet tall and made of paper and banana. Girgaon Ganpati was one foot taller and made of shadu in 2017.Mati. The tallest POP idol this year is the 38-foot tall Mumbaicha Maharaja Khetwadi Galli 11. But the taller Ganpatis are for the latter period.
On Thursday, it was mostly the household Ganpatis that made a beeline to the shores in cars and buses. "Since our idol is made of Shadu Mati, we did not feel that we were damaging the environment by immersing it in a natural body of water," said Falguni Shah-Agarwal, who will be distributing the decoration of Lord Ganesha's throne made of glass to friends and relatives.