Maharashtra bid adieu to Lord Ganesh on Anant Chaturdashi on Thursday as the curtains fell on the 11-day Ganeshotsav festivities.
After performing the farewell ‘Uttar Pooja’, thousands of big, medium and small idols of Lord Ganesh were taken to various immersion points for immersion amidst cries of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudchya Varshi Lavkar Ya’.
The processions were accompanied by dancers, musical bands and DJs. People threw colours and flowers on the participants and the idols as they snaked their way through congested areas of south-central Mumbai and other places.
The festival, initiated in an open public format in 1892 by Mumbai’s Bhausaheb Laxman Javale alias Bhau Rangari, entered the 125th year.
It was popularised on a mass scale by freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak from 1893 in Pune to unite the people against the British Raj.
Mumbai Police, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the navy and Coast Guard made elaborate arrangements for a smooth conduct of the immersion at all natural and artificially created water bodies in the state.
There were CCTVs, metal detectors, dog squads, drones and other security gadgets. The BMC deployed firemen, divers, navy and Coast Guard to monitor the immersion process.
Helicopters, speed boats and naval ships were ready to tackle any contingency along the coast.
The day started with heavy rains engulfing Mumbai and other parts of the coastal Konkan region, slowing down the processions carrying the idols.
The popular immersion points for the large idols are the Arabian Sea, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the various beaches and creeks in Mumbai, scores of artificial water bodies created by the BMC for immersion, lakes, wells and ponds.
In other parts of the state, the immersions will be carried out in big and small rivers, lakes or ponds and reservoirs.
Among the big idols, the Ganesh Gally’s ‘Mumbaicha Raja’, ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ and others standing up to 20 feet were taken to Girgaum for immersion.
Along the route, millions of devotees as well as domestic and international tourists lined up the roads for a final glimpse of the god in various shapes, sizes, designs and forms.
The annual Ganeshotsav is Maharashtra’s biggest public festival which has transcended religious boundaries. It is celebrated by people of all communities who join the prayers and festivities. A few also install Ganesh idols in their homes.
Besides Mumbai, immersion processions would be taken out in Thane, Palghar, Pune, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Aurangabad and the Konkan region, where it is celebrated in a traditional fashion and is a huge tourist draw.