Ganesha@125 the festival has grown bigger over the years in Mumbai

Last Updated : 19 August 2017, 10:07 IST

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What started in 1894 by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak to unite and bring people under one roof for the common cause of freedom struggle - has now turned out to be one of the biggest festivals of Maharashtra and India.

This is year Ganeshutsav falls from 25 August-5 September - and this would be the 125th year of the festival in Mumbai, the commercial capital of the country.

Tilak performed the 1st Ganesh festival at Keshavji Nayak Chawl at Khadilkar Road in Girgaum - where one can see the board of the Shree Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Sanstha, which organises it.

While Ganesh Chaturthi falls on 25 August, one-and-half-days visarjan on 26 August, three-day visarjan on 27 August, five days visarjan on 29 August, seven-days visarjan on 31 and 11 days visarjan on 5 September, which is Anant Chaturdashi and the final day of the immersion.

Even though there is a controversy in Pune on whether Tilak was the founder of public Ganeshutsav or Bhausaheb Rangari - the facts are clear for Mumbai. It was the Keshavji Naik Chawl where the Ganesh festival was held first.

The Brihan Mumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti is in touch with various agencies like Maharashtra Government, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and Mumbai Police to chalk out a plan for the festival.

In Mumbai, there are around 11,000 Ganesh mandals. The festival is nearly a Rs 1,000 to 1,200 crore affair in Mumbai and its suburbs. As far as big sarvajanik Ganpati mandals are concerned, the budget is between Rs 4 to Rs 25 lakh. However, these exclude big celebrations like the Lalbaug-cha-Raja, Ganesh Gully, Andheri-cha-Raja, Andheri-cha-Raja and Fort-cha-Raja.
Controversy in Pune
The celebrations in Pune, however, is mired in controversy. The Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari Ganpati Trust has claimed that Bhausaheb Rangari alias Bhau Laxman Jawale had started the festival in 1892 and it was already completed 125 years.

There is are statements and counterstatements between the trust and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Incidentally, Mukta Tilak is the Mayor of Pune and she hails from the Tilak family.

“In 1892, Bhausaheb Rangari held a meeting at his residence to put forth the idea of celebrating the festival at the community level,” said Suraj Renuse, a trustee of the Srimant Bhau Rangari Ganapati Trust.The meeting attended by some of the eminent personalities of the day like Nanasaheb Khasgiwale, Ganapatrao Ghotawadekar, Annasaheb Patwardhan, Balasaheb Natu, Lakhusheth Dantale, Mama Hasabnis, Khandoba Tarawade, Balawant Satav and Dagadusheth Halwai. He also said that Tilak in his newspaper, Kesari, had written on this and in1894, Tilak installed his first Ganapati idol in Vinchurkar Wada.

Pune's Guardian Minister Girish Bapat and soothed the tempers saying that the Ganesh festival had evolved because of the combined effort of Lokmanya Tilak and Bhausaheb Rangari.

MTDC to have bus tours, walks
To mark the occasion, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is planning is planning bus tours and walks for visitors covering famous Ganesh mandals in cities like Mumbai and Pune. "All the iconic mandals would be covered," Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal said. A special enclosure would also be made for foreign tourists who wish to see the immersion procession on the final day. 

Published 19 August 2017, 10:01 IST

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