At the moment it is Ganpati Festival which is a festival that celebrates the Hindu God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, Ganesha and runs for 10 days from the 1st September. All over the city within people’s homes, are shrines beautifully decorated with lights and flowers dedicated to him. The main focus of the shrine is a special Ganesha statue (traditionally made of clay) that sits in the middle. The statue is treated as a guest of honour for the duration of the festival and it is worshipped daily and offered gifts of delicious food, flowers, sweets and fruits.
All over the city, there are huge themed Mandals that have been erected for the festival. Some of them are amazing, with huge fibreglass figures in them. One near where I work has a massive fire pit in the middle of the floor where, during worship, ghee and curd is thrown into it. There are some specific mandals, where it is claimed that your wishes come true and people travel for mile to, just to worship there. Apparently, a big famous one in Mumbai had a 12 hour queue for people wanting to get up close to it.
|Huge Mandal near my work with a fire pit in the middle. The group of people sitting |
on the floor are sitting around it.
|Smaller Mandal on Bund Garden Road.|
|Same as above.|
On the last day of the festival, the 10th day or whatever day is the family tradition for it to end (sometimes 3rd, 5th, 7th or 9th days) the Ganesha statue is taken in a procession of music, dancing drumming and fanfare through the streets to the river, or nearest water source and immersed into the water. All the while, they are chanting “Ganpati Bappa Moriya Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar yaa” (in Marathi) which means "Oh Ganpati My Lord, return soon next year"!
On the first day of the Ganpati Festival we were invited to our friend Anurag’s house to see his shrine and enjoy a delicious lunch that his family had cooked for us. His shrine was beautiful! There were so many flowers and offerings as well as rangoli art on the floor.
|Me in Anurag's house in front of the shrine.|
|Shrine with food, fruit and sweet offerings.|
|Lord Ganesha in the middle.|
|Sai Baba idol, a popular Indian Saint.|
After lunch we all went for a walk around the local area of Aundh, which is in the north east of the city. There were two Mandals near his house. One was small and just contained a statue of Ganesha, the other was humongous and had statues of Krishna dancing on the head of a snake as well as various on lookers.
|Huge themed Mandal.|
|Smaller Mandal just down the road from the large one.|
Also at the time of this festival Gauri Puja is also celebrated on the first three days. The shrine for Gauri Puja is similar to the Ganesha shrine, but it is dedicated to the sister of Ganesha, Goddess Gauri. There are two statues of Goddess Gauri and their arrival is said to bring health, wealth, happiness and prosperity to the household.
I was invited to another friend’s house to see their Gauri Puja shrine in another part of Pune. It was really beautiful and had been also offered lots of food and sweets.
|Example of a Gauri Puja shrine.|
I am really excited to see the final day of the festival this weekend, apparently, the whole city practically descends onto the river to immerse their Ganesha’s.
|A huge Ganesha being paraded to one |
of the Mandals on the first day of Ganpati.
I have already seen a few Ganesha’s being taken to the river today (7th day) to be immersed. There was a society one where I live this evening and it was paraded out to a fanfare of drums and music being played from a rickshaw. There was also a large amount of bangers that were set off at the gate, just before exiting the society! It was all quite exciting!
|Ganesha procession to the river.|
|Ganesha being taken to the river.|
|Bangers at the gate of my housing society!|
|Ganesha being carried behind a rickshaw with huge speakers!|
|A bit blurry, but you can see the huge silver speakers on the rickshaw.|
|Off to the river!|
I will be going out tomorrow to see some more Mandals, so I will upload more photos when I can. I can’t wait for the weekend its quite exciting but I will be sad to see all the beautiful Mandals disappear.