As Pune is being blessed with light showers, people can be seen stepping out of their houses and on to the busy streets to shop for various items that are needed for the Ganapati celebrations. At Pune365, we decided to trail across the five Manache Ganapati to find out how they’re preparing for this year’s festivities. Ganeshotsav was earlier a private affair and did not involve the public until freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak used it to mobilise people and spread patriotic messages through Ganapati celebrations.
The city is abuzz with vibrant colours and excitement all over. The enthusiasm with which Puneites pour in during Ganeshotsav to visit the pandals is met with the effort put in to create the perfect abode for the 10-day guest. We begin our journey with Kasba Peth. According to historical references, the temple was constructed as per the instructions of Jijabai, mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji. It attracts large number of people especially during the festive season and this year will be even more special since the temple will be celebrating 124 years since its inception. Preparations are in full swing and no stone is left unturned to make sure public participation is maximum. Speaking to Pune365, Nilesh Vakil (trustee of Kasba Ganapati) elaborates: “One of the major steps we have taken is inclusion of women members in our committee. We will effectively be working with Janwani Sanstha this year to send out the message for a clean city through segregation of waste and proper waste management. Also, we will be conducting a blood donation camp with Janakalyan Raktapedhi.”
Almost 20 days before the deity presides over the city, as you hop across from one Manache Ganapati to another in the vicinity you will see meetings of the trustees take place in full swing. The trustees of Tulshibaug Ganapati were seen speaking over one another in order to be audible on the busy Laxmi Road. As we tried to catch onto any piece of information, sensing our trouble Vinayak Kadam (Vice President) informs us, “This year along with our Ganesh statue we will pay homage to D S Khatavkar who was the President in 1952 and an extremely talented sculpture artist. His Ganesh idols are theme-based and inspired from the likes of Mahabharata. Also, we will not put up loudspeakers in order to curb noise pollution. But, still lots has to be done.” A similar affair was seen at the three other Manache Ganapati – Guruji Taalim, Kesariwada and Tambdi Jogeshwari. Planning and execution was in full swing as the festival of the God of Wisdom and Prosperity draws closer. A binding element for trustees of the five revered Ganapatis of Pune was to send out a clear message of promoting an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi. With Kasba Ganapati closely working with the Pune Municipal Corporation to pass the message and yet again continuing with their decision for Visarjan in an artificial tank, Tushibaug Ganapati is not far behind as they plan on making shadu Ganapati idols.
As concerned authorities play their part and pandals are being erected to venerate the elephant-headed god, shopkeepers have donned their workplace with the finest. Says Satish Aajare, who has been running his shop that specialises in selling decorations for Ganesh Chaturthi for 70 years: “Like every year, this time also new variations in materials to adorn Ganapati have come to the market. It is the aasan this year, we would always sell plain ones but now we have decorative ones with glitter on them as well.” Puneites have not let the incessant rains deter them from doing some advance shopping, as they flock to shops lined on the narrow lanes of Laxmi road. Poonam Pawar, who is eagerly awaiting the festivities says, “From the flowers to the glittering necklaces, everything in the market is so attractive I want to buy all of it.”