As the city bids farewell to its beloved Bappa, the streets are echoing loud with the phrase, ‘pudhchya varshi lavkar ya!’ which, in Marathi, begs the elephant-headed god to come back soon next year.
To avoid heavy traffic on the day of visarjan, the city police has made provisions for motorists so that they do not get stuck in the procession traffic and have even created a ring road facility.
A grand farewell for the beloved elephant-headed god, is a specialty of Pune. People from far and wide come to witness this extravagant celebration. Ganesh Visarjan is the process of immersing the Ganesh idol in the waters The ritual marks the end of the 10-day festival, which is celebrated in an especially majestic fashion across Maharashtra. The process of the visarjan takes place through the tenth day, sometimes going into the next day as well. Every family that hosts Bappa for the entire period of the Ganeshotsav, comes out onto the streets and walks towards the immersion points while chanting “Ganapati Bappa Morya pudchya warshi lavkar ya”.
However, it is the sarvajanik or community pandals which bring huge idols of the elephant-headed god that attracts not just the devotees but the entire city. A feast to the eyes, the streets are filled with thousands of devotees who join the processions and travel miles on foot to bid goodbye to their beloved. The entire city comes alive, with dashes of colour flying in the air as people rejoice and dance. The air rings with celebrations and euphoria, as devotional and upbeat songs are sung and played, in the praise of the mighty Ganapati. The dhol tasha groups are at their finest and are seen playing with unmatchable energy and vigour. The pandals follow a specific route which is planned days in advance. With every passing lane the procession becomes bigger and grander. The first pandal to inaugurate the tradition is the Kasba Ganapati. The procession began at 10 am and will go on till 4 pm, until it reaches the immersion destination. As large number of volunteers and police officials guarded the bullock cart on which the idol lay, everyone excitedly pushed across to catch a glimpse and say their goodbyes.
The continuous flow of crowds that comes to bid adieu to Bappa begins from the early hours of the morning right up to late night. The excitement to be a part of something this grand is shared not just by small children dressed as Shivaji, or college students but the older generation as well who have been doing this for years. Despite being a holiday for most, a large number of college students were seen eagerly scurrying along with the procession. For Payal Karamunge, a Pune college student, this is her first Ganeshotsav in the city and she couldn’t be happier. “I have come with a bunch of my friends and we are so excited to see the entire process of Ganesh Visarjan. We decided to head out early so we could visit all the five manache Ganapatis,” she narrates enthusiastically. Parents bring their children who look upon with fascinated and amused faces, but for some families it is more than just a thrilling visit. Maithili Pokle explains, “I’m from Mumbai, but every year my parents and I come to Pune for Visarjan and take part in the procession. It is almost a family tradition and we make sure we never miss it.”
The grand scale on which Ganesh Visarjan takes place requires detailed planning and execution to ensure a safe and peaceful festival. Certain roads are blocked and the police force is on guard especially on the last day. Gyaneshwar Dake, a constable stationed near Dagdusheth Temple, reveals the safety measures taken for this day. “Almost 4,500 Ganapatis will pass through this route. In order to ensure everyone’s safety 8,000 police officers have been deployed and 17 roads are shut. All of us work for both the days of Ganesh Visarjan right from six in the morning to the next day.”
Barring the official authorities doing their duty, there are a few groups that assist the police to make their task easier. One such is the Police Mitra Group that is made up of college students. Deepak Shelke, a member of the group tells us about their intention, “We assist the police in controlling the crowd and traffic. I have been doing this for the past five years and every year we receive training for five days.”
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