Devotees prepare to shift a Ganesha idol to a place of worship on the first day of the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Ahmedabad on Friday. (Source: PTI)

Ganeshotsav Begins In Mumbai With Fewer Pandals Than Last Year

The people of Mumbai welcomed Lord Ganesh with the deity's idols – from small to grand and decked up in vibrant colours – installed in thousands of households and various pandals in the city.

This Ganesh Chaturthi marks the 125th celebration of the festival after freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak called upon the people in 1892 to turn the private, household festival into a gala event.

The festivities began this morning with 'Ganesh sthapna' (installation of the idol) followed by prayers.

People stood in long queues to offer payers to their favourite God at the famous pandals of Lalbaugcha Raja pandal, Keshavji Naik Chawl at Girgaum, Mumbaicha Raja, Parelcha Raja, Andhericha Raja and Tilak Nagar mandal.

“Till Thursday evening, 935 mandals were given permission by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) while applications for setting ups 911 mandals were still pending. Last year, 1,393 mandals were given permission,” a senior civic official said.

This year the number of applications received by the BMC saw a decline, he said.

He said civic officials have been asked to keep a close watch on the organisers and their activities and to check the pandals set up illegally.

"With a view to popularise the festival among foreign tourists, the BMC along with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation will set up a 'shamiana' (makeshift ceremonial tent or structure) at Girgaum Chowpatty in south Mumbai to witness the religious fervour and 'visarjan' (immersion of idols)," he said.

Girgaum Chowpatty is a key spot for the immersion of idols in the city.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Rashmi Karandikar, the spokesperson of Mumbai police, yesterday said elaborate security arrangements have been put in place across the city for the festival.

Prominent mandals have been asked to install CCTV cameras, while adequate police force has been deployed at multiple spots and the pandals receiving high footfall.

To prevent noise pollution during the festival, Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, the umbrella body of Ganpati mandals in Mumbai, has appealed to the organisers to keep the sound level of loudspeakers low.

"The mandals have been asked to follow the rules and keep the sound level low in the best possible way and cooperate with the police and the BMC," the samiti's president Naresh Dahibhavkar told PTI.

The celebrations will culminate on September 5 with the immersion of idols of the elephant-headed deity in different water bodies here.

While the big mandals perform the immersion on the last day, small organisers and people setting up the idols at home generally do it either after one-and-a-half day, third, fifth or seventh day.