The ten-day long Ganesh festival kicked off with zeal and fervour across Maharashtra with lakhs of devotees queueing up outside temples to offer prayers to the elephant-headed deity.
Scores of people thronged the famous Siddhivinayak temple in South Mumbai to seek Lord Ganesha’s blessings amid chants of “Ganpati bappa morya” offering ‘modaks’ as prasad.
Several beautifully done pandals have been erected across the city, where huge idols of Ganesha have been placed on raised platforms, for people to worship.
These make shift tents also serve as a venue for promoting social causes such as free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for poor during the festival days.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has appealed people to ensure that the festival is celebrated in a safe manner.
“This festival of Lord Ganesha teaches us that social evils like blind faith, superstitions, and ill-conduct among people should be abolished. We need to avoid noise pollution that could trouble children and the elderly and ensure that the environment does not get harmed in any way,” he said.
The officiating Governor of Maharashtra Om Prakash Kohli too greeted people on the occasion.
“May Lord Ganesh shower his blessings on the people of the state and may the festival bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all,” he said.
Also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ the festival is celebrated across the country as birthday of Lord Ganesha which comes to an end after 11 days when people come out in large numbers for immersing the idol in river or in the sea.
Meanwhile, suburban railway authorities have cancelled mega blocks during the course of the festival.
“We have decided to cancel mega railway blocks on August 31 and September 7 so that we can maintain the timings and frequency of trains like weekdays. We want to ensure that commuters face no hassles while travelling in trains during the festival,” a railway official said. As many as 1,058 idols of Lord Ganesh have been installed at public places in Nagpur by social and religious organisations. Police are maintaining tight vigil during the festival.
Home Guards have been deployed in certain areas to assist the police in maintaining law and order and also to control crowds of devotees, who are thronging temples and pandals (temporary fabricated structures) housing the idols of Maharashtra’s most beloved God. In Nashik, braving heavy rains enthusiastic people, especially youths and members of various mandals (groups), brought Lord Ganesh idols to their homes and pandals amid chantings of ‘Ganapati bappa moraya’, beating of drums and and sprinkling of ‘gulal’ (red coloured powder).