Crowded, noisy yet full of life – with order in the chaos, the Ganesh Visarjan is quintessentially what Mumbai is all about!
As the sun sets into the Arabian sea, more and more Ganesh idols show up for immersion. In the fading evening light, all you see is a sea of people.
The excitement and the energy defy how crowded the beach actually is. It feels like the Ganesh idols, resplendent with their charming demeanour, are showering a bountiful of blessings on the devotees.
The journey of the Ganesh idol from the beach to the sea is worth experiencing. The wheeled platform on which the idol sits is pulled by the organisers. This makes the idol rush towards the sea at breakneck speeds. However, at times the idol changes direction. A crazy scampering of the crowds follows, to get out of its way!
While the Ganesh visarjan day in Pune – a neighbouring city of Mumbai, is about culture and tradition, in Mumbai it is about the crowd participation and management.
It is also about “Lalbaug cha Raja” – the biggest celebrity of Mumbai.
Frenzy. The only word to describe everything surrounding the “Lalbaug cha Raja” (the king of Lalbaug).
During the ten days of the festival, this particular Ganesh idol is visited by over a million devotees. Those who can not make it in the ten days try to catch a glimpse on the visarjan day.
As the idol proceeds ahead, the organisers shower the crowds of devotees with garlands and sweets (prasad) as blessings of the Lalbaug cha Raja. Their expressions of sheer bliss on catching hold of these is a sight to be seen to be believed!
It is an unwritten rule that the visarjan proceedings in Mumbai end with the immersion of the Lalbaug cha Raja. At around 5AM on the morning following the visarjan day, after a procession that lasts over 12 hours, the Lalbaug cha Raja is sent to sea.
Managing the crowds of this magnitude (on the entire visarjan day and particularly for the Lalbaug cha Raja) is not for the mild hearted.
Hats off to the police, armed forces and the volunteers for a performing such an arduous job so well.
Each Ganesh idol has a story to tell
The Ganesh idols come in all shapes and sizes. Each one tells a story. This multi dimensional character of Lord Ganesh is what endears him to his devotees. As the night draws to a close, chants of “Ganpati Bappa Morya! Pudhcya varshi lavkar ya!” (see you soon the next year) fill the air.
By the glittering lights of Mumbai’s famous landmark, the Queen’s necklace, next to the Arabian sea, the city says its final goodbye to Lord Ganesh.
It is a great atmosphere. An experience we recommend to everyone visiting Mumbai.
Some tips for enjoying the Ganesh festival in Mumbai
- Be mentally prepared for humongous crowds. You will be pushed around at times. Not necessarily by someone meaning harm.
- Try to go in a group. And stick together. It is easy to be lost in these crowds and will be difficult to trace your companions if you lose sight of them. It is difficult hear the mobile phone ringing in such crowds.
- If you feel like joining in the crowds dancing, join in where there are families and women.
- Dress comfortably (including footwear) and modestly.
- Do not carry valuables.
- Carry water and some food with you. The restaurants in the areas surrounding the procession and immersion are closed on the visarjan day.
- Accept that some customs and practices will sound unreasonable. But in the middle of the festival is not the time to challenge these.
13 thoughts on “Ganesh festival, visarjan day in Mumbai”
Awesome photos , Thanks for the beautiful post.
Ganpati Bappa Morya
Fantastic pictures, Feeling nostagic about Mumbai’s Ganpati vsarjan sitting in my office cubicle in Pune 🙂
The Ganpati visarjan in Pune is a wonderful different – very different than the Ganpati visarjan in Mumbai. But an event to be experienced for sure.
The Ganesh visarjan in Pune is an event to be experienced as well. Very different than the visarjan chaos of Mumbai, it’s a big cultural extravaganza.
nice and creative photography, and also waiting for coming next month ganpati season photos
Thanks Sachin! Hope to attend the Ganesh festival this year.
Hello Sandeepa and Chetan,
Firstly i appreciate your photography skill.
Very nice information about Ganesh visarjan in Mumbai. Amazing Photography. Loved It. 🙂
The pictures are incredible as usual and I really enjoyed hearing about the history of the festival as well. I admire you for going into those big crowds, and for staying so long. Your night shots are just as beautiful as your day shots.
Hey Tina, living in a city as populous as Mumbai has probably made us immune to the crowds 🙂 For an event like the Ganesh festival, the large crowds just add so much energy, we didn’t realise the time we had spent there! Thank you once again for your comment and appreciation!
This looks like quite the celebration!!
Just curious…what are the idols made of, and are they sent to drift out to sea? Or, are they recovered and reused?
Have a great day. Thanks for the photos.
Hello Lynn, the idols and their immersion in the sea is matter of great concern here. The big idols, like the ones in the photos here are made of plaster of paris. And yes, they are just let to drift off. The smaller ones, the ones that people get in their homes are made of mud. Many environment related organisations are making a 3 pronged effort to reduce the environmental impact of this festival. One, encourage more people to get only the mud idols painted with organic colours. Second is to reduce the height of the Ganesh idols. And thirdly, encourage people to make an artificial lake in their neighbourhoods and use it for immersion. Hopefully the awareness will spread.
Your blog is so interesting! I hope you intend to make it into a book. If you do, don’t forget to tell us where we can purchase it. Keep up the good work!
Thank you,Kim for such a generous and encouraging comment!