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With no COVID curbs, Maharashtra soaks in Ganesh Chaturthi festivities


MUMBAI/PUNE: Devotees welcomed Lord Ganesh on Wednesday in their homes and pooja pandals with fervour, marking the commencement of the ten-day festival which is being celebrated without any COVID-19 restrictions after two years.

Excitement reigned with calls of "Ganpati Bappa Morya" as people in urban and rural areas and noted personalities, including Bollywood celebrities, welcomed Lord Ganesh and offered 'modaks', a traditional Maharashtrian delicacy as 'prasad'.

Devotees thronged prominent Ganesh pandals like the Lalbaugcha Raja in south-central Mumbai in large numbers, standing in queues for several hours.

Actor Kartik Aryan was one of the film personalities to visit the Lalbaghcha Raja on the first day of the festival.

Many big Ganpati mandals had brought the idols much before the festival began.

Many pandals designed decorations based on different themes with a social message.

Devotees also thronged the famous Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi in central Mumbai.

In Pune, known as the cultural capital of Maharashtra, traditional dhol-tasha (drum) troupes accompanied the processions which began around 10 AM.

Following a grand procession, the 'pranpratishtha' (consecration) of Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati, one of the most prominent Ganesh in the city, was performed in the pandal designed as a replica of the Panch Kedar temple.

The processions of the five 'Manache' Ganpati -- the Ganesh idols which enjoy precedence in the last day's immersion procession -- namely, Kasba, Tambdi Jogeshwari, Guruji Talim, Tulshibaug and Kesariwada -- were also carried out with much fanfare.

In the coastal Konkan region also, Lord Ganesh was welcomed with much enthusiasm and gaiety.

Tens of thousands of Mumbaikars, who hail from Konkan, travel to their villages for the festival every year.

The festivities remained subdued for the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic curbs which prohibited large gatherings.

Among political leaders, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde welcomed Lord Ganesh at 'Varsha', his official residence in south Mumbai.

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis consecrated the idol of Lord Ganesh at his official residence 'Sagar' in Mumbai.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray welcomed the Lord at 'Shivtirth', his new residence at Dadar in central Mumbai.

Shinde conducted puja of the Ganesh idol with his wife Lata, son and Lok Sabha MP Shrikant Shinde, and his grandson Rudransh.

In a statement, the chief minister's secretariat said Shinde sought the blessings of Lord Ganesh for the happiness and contentment of the people of the state.

Later, the Shinde family also welcomed Ganesh at their private residence in Thane.

Fadnavis told reporters he was happy that the festival was being celebrated in Mumbai and the state with the usual fervour like the pre-pandemic days.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Ajit Pawar extended greetings to the people on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.

Raj Thackeray was seen clicking a photo on his mobile phone of his son Amit, daughter-in-law, and grandson, praying to Lord Ganesh.

Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan offered prayers to the Lord at his residence.

Many Bollywood and TV personalities celebrated the Ganesh Chaturthi with much fervour, some bring Ganesh idols to their homes, while others visit Ganpati pandals.

Like every year, Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty and her husband Raj Kundra welcomed Lord Ganesh at their Juhu residence, with much zeal.

She posted a boomerang video of her along with her husband and two kids – son Viaan and daughter Samisha.

Superstar Salman Khan's sister Arpita Sharma too received the deity at her home in suburban Bandra.

Bollywood biggie Shah Rukh Khan took to Instagram to share how he and his younger son AbRam welcomed Lord Ganpati at their home.

"Ganpatiji welcomed home by lil one and me. The modaks after were delicious"the learning is, through hard work, perseverance & faith in God, u can live your dreams. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all," he wrote.

Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh, son of veteran singer Nitin Mukesh, posted a happy family picture on his social media handle.

"Festival Ready #ganpati #2022," the actor wrote on Instagram alongside a series of photos of his family.

Other celebrities who bring Bappa home are actors Jeetendra Kapoor, Sonali Bendre, Isha Koppikar, and comedians Bharti Singh, and Krushna Abhishek, among others.

The public celebration of the festival in Maharashtra dates back to the 1890s when the nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and others decided to use it to mobilize the masses.

Devotees thronged vegetable and flower markets, sweet shops and roadside stalls for buying flowers, puja materials, sweets and decorative items.

To ensure the smooth passage of the festival, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set up 188 control rooms in 24 civic wards across the city.

At least 10,000 civic employees including officials have been put on alert.