Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Maharashtra and Vinayagar- Part 6 ( concluding part )

22 9 10

Today being the Chaturdasi day, it is the day of Visarjan ( Immersion ). The Ganesh utsav which starts on Chaturthi day ends on Chaturdasi when the Lord is immersed in water.

The reason for immersion is a way of saying goodbye to the Lord who descends down on earth from Ganesh Lok to partake in the festivities. We invoke Him and He willingly comes and stays with us. So when the time comes, He returns to His abode. This is marked by the ritual of immersion.

In Pune the main immersion procession concludes at the banks of the river Mula near the junction of Lakshmi Road/Tilak Road.

The immersion procession of the five important Ganapatis, known as the manache Ganapati is a visual treat in itself. These five Ganapatis which are among the oldest in Pune, get precedence over hundreds of other Ganapati idols in the procession/immersion function. The first of these five Ganapatis, The Kasba Ganapati leads the procession in Pune and is the first Ganapati to be immersed.

*The Kasba Ganapati immersion procession is unique in many ways. The procession of this Ganapati alone is more than half a Km long and there are series of bands, Silambaattam, folk dances, and what not. It is a treat to hear and watch more than 60 persons beating the huge drums in a highly rythemic fashion .

* The Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganapati comes second after Kasba Ganapati. This is amongst one of the Ganapatis that Tilak had started for the cause of social uprisement. Now the mandal is 107 years old. The idol of this Ganapati is unique that resembles the elephants of Africa and is always kept in a silver palkhi.

* The Guruji Taalim Mandal established in 1887 is the third manacha Ganapati. This was the first mandal in Pune to celebrate its 100 years even before Tilak started Ganesh festival for social awakening.

* The Tulshibaug Ganpati was installed in 1901. As Tulshibaug was the biggest market place in Pune at that time, traders from various places used to come here. It was thought that the message of independence movement could be spread by word of mouth through these traders at that time. This was the first mandal to present a moving tableau way back in 1952.

* The Kesari Wada Ganapati is the fifth Ganapati of honour in Pune. Lokmanya Tilak had established the idol of Ganesh for this mandal in the year 1893.

* While the above 5 ganapatis are immersed in the daytime itself, Sriman Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati procession takes place after 8 pm as the chariot in which the Ganapati is taken will have beautiful decoration with jewellary which will glitter under thousands of serial bulbs in the night.

The immersion function was initially over by midnight in the earlier years . Now a days with more and more Ganesh pandals coming up every year, it takes two full days for the function to get over. This is inspite of the fact that many pandals choose to have immersion from the 5th day of festival itself( to avoid the rush on the Visarjan day )

Elaborate arrangements are made by the city police for ensuring a smooth procession and many roads are closed for traffic for the whole day today.

We, I, Magesh, Suba, Sughosh and Mahathi had a wonderful view of the procession of the five important Ganapatis today. We left our home at 1030 am and after parking our car about 1 km before Lakshmi Road walked to Lakshmi Road .

As the procession had just started at the other end of Lakshmi Road ( about 3 Km's away ), we decided to walk the stretch to meet the procession on the way.

What we saw then was unbelievable. We have heard of Red Carpet welcome when a VIP visits. Here on Lakshmi Road it was also a Red Carpet Welcome for the Ganapatis coming in that route for immersion , but it was a different kind of Red Carpet .Yes, it was Red Carpet of Rangoli.

In the middle of the road, Red Carpet Rangoli was put for a width of about 3 feet and on both the sides and inside the Carpet area, various excellent designs of flowers etc were drawn in white Rangoli. At junctions of four roads, very big round Rangoli Kolam were drawn ( each Kolam would be about 30 feet diameter and more than 10 different colors had been used in each kolam ).

When we were walking in the Lakshmi Road , we could see this Rangoli taking shape in the last stretch of the road. Hundreds of girls and boys were engaged in this marvellous hand work and it was a visual treat to watch the Rangoli being put with such expertise and precision that when somebody sees this from a distance, he/she will easily take it to be a real Red Carpet with beautiful borders and designs inside it . ஆயிரம் கண் போதாது இதை கண்டுகளிக்க.,

Then came the procession in the order mentioned above. We had excellent darshan of these Ganapatis and enjoyed the drums and other dances. After seeing these five Ganapatis, we walked back for some distance and then took an Auto to our Carpark by another road ( Lakshmi Road was full of people) and returned home by 4 30 pm ( after having lunch in a hotel ).

Today was a very satisfying day as we could see a number of our beloved God Vinayagar idols in eyecatching procession. One must see atleast once in his/her life time , the Visarjan procession in Pune .

During the procession, the following are chanted by the devotees.

(This chanting is to be said in the same manner as we say -
Namah Paarvatipathaye..... HaraHara Mahaadeva )

Ganapati Bappa ...... Moriya ( Oh father / Lord Ganesha.... Moriya* )

MangalMurthy......... Moriya* ( That which purifies both internally as well as externally is auspicious (mangal). An image bringing auspiciousness is thus Mangalmurti )

Pudhchya Varshi ...... Lavkar yaa ( come again speedily next year ).

* Moriya Gosavi was a 14th century saint of the Ganapatya sect. He was a great devotee of Ganesha. The word Moriya in "Ganapati Bappa Moriya" is attributed to him. This depicts the inseparable relationship between God and a devotee."

Ganapati Bappa ........ Moriya
MangalMurthy......... Moriya
Pudhchya Varshi ..... Lavkar yaa


Monday, September 20, 2010

Maharashtra and Vinayagar- Part 5

20 9 10

There are many important Ganesh temples in Maharashtra. Among them, the AshtaVinayagar temples around Pune have a special place.

Ashtavinayaga temples are eight popular Lord Ganesha temples. The term ‘Ashtavinayaga Yatra’ refers to the pilgrimage or yatra to these eight ancient holy Ganapati temples around Pune. These Ashtavinayaga temples have eight distinct forms of Ganesh idols. The form of trunk of each Ganesha idol is different from one another. Some of the Ashtavinayaka are Swayambhu Ganpati murtis (self-existent).

There is a tradition or ritual of visiting these eight Ganesh temples in serial order mentioned in the Shastra. The Yatra starts with Moreshwar of Moregaon, and goes on through Siddhitek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar, Ranjangoan, and then again Moregaon. Visiting Moregaon for second time concludes the Yatra.

Brief details of Ashtavinayaga temples:

Mayureshwar or Moreshwar Temple: Located along the banks of Karha River in Morgaon village in Pune District, Lord Ganesh is known as Mayureshwar or Moreshwar. Ganesha is here depicted as riding a peacock. It is believed that Lord Ganesha appeared in this form to destroy a demon named Sindhu. Morgaon village is located in Baramati Taluk and is around 55 km southeast of Pune city.

Siddhivinayak Temple: The idol of Ganesha at Siddhivinayak Temple is unique as it has a right turned trunk. This famous temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh is located at Siddhatek. It is believed that Lord Vishnu prayed to Ganesha before fighting demons Madhu and Kaitab. Ganesh is named Siddhivinayak here because it is believed that Lord Vishnu achieved success because he prayed here. Siddhatek Village is located on the banks of Bhima River near Karjat in Ahmadnagar District. It is south east of Pune city.

Ballaleshwar Temple: Lord Ganesha shrine at Pali in Raigad District known as Ballaleshwar Ganesh Temple is named after Ballal, a staunch devotee of Vinayaka. It is believed that Ganesha appeared here to save his devotee from irate villagers. Pali is around 115 km west of Pune city.

Varad Vinayak or Mahadcha Shri Varadavinayak Temple: Located in Mahad in Raigarh District, Lord Ganesha is believed to have given darshan to Gruthsmadh here who performed penance to get rid of sins. He was granted what he wished and therefore the Varad Vinayak here is known as one who fulfills wishes. A lamp named Nandadeep at the temple is burning constantly since 1892. Mahad is around 25 km southwest of Karjat.

Chintamani Vinayak Temple: Chintamani Ganesh Temple is located in Theur in Pune District. It is believed that Lord Ganesha took the form of Chintamani to get back the precious Chintamani jewel of Sage Kaptila from demon Guna. Another legend has it that Brahma’s mind once underwent turbulence and he called upon Ganesha at Theur to help in keeping his mind in calm. Theur or Theyoor is located 20 km south east of Pune city.

Girijatmaja or Girijatmak or Girijatmaj Temple: Located in Lekhan Hills or Lenaya Parvat or Lenyadri, it is believed that Girija (Goddess Parvati) performed intense austerities for 12 years at the present Girijatmaj Lenyadri Temple to beget Ganesha as her son. One has to climb 283 steps to reach this shrine, which is surrounded by beautiful hills. The Ganesh temple is part of a Buddhist Cave temple. It is located around 150 km north-east of Pune city on the Pune-Nasik Highway

Vighneshwar or Vighnahara or Vighneshwara Temple: Located on the banks of the Kukdeshwar River in Ojhar or Ozhar in Pune District, Vighneshwar Temple represents the form of Ganesha taken to destroy demon Vighnasura. This beautiful temple is located on Pune – Nasik Highway (NH 50) near Junnar and is around 80 km north east of Pune city.

Mahaganapati Temple: Located at Ranjangaon, Mahaganapati Temple is believed to be the spot where Lord Shiva worshipped Ganesha before fighting demon Tripurasura. This is also the most powerful idol of Ganesha as it is depicted having several arms. Ranjangaon is located on the Pune-Ahmadnagar highway and is around 55 km east of Pune City.

All these eight temples can be covered in 2/3 days. Try to spare time to visit these temples during your next visit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Maharashtra and Vinayagar- Part 4

19 9 10

Lalbaugcharaja Ganpati is the most famous Ganesh Pandal in Mumbai.
“LALBAUGCHA RAJA (The Emperor of Lalbaug)” is the name of the popular Ganesh Idol of “LALBAUGCHA RAJA SARVAJANIK GANESHOTSAV MANDAL”. The Mandal, formerly known as “SARVAJANIK GANESHOTSAV MANDAL, LALBAUG” was founded in the year 1934, at its existing place.

This Mandal will celebrate cool Ganeshotsav in 2010. The Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has built an air-conditioned waiting enclosure for devotees who throng the mandal to get the darshan of the Lord and wait for hours. This is the first of its kind in Mumbai. This will be a great help for lakhs of devotees who wait for hours in queues stretching up to kilometers.

Lalbaugcharaja Ganpati, will have its replica for Ganesh Chaturthi 2010 in Pune. It is the great news for Pune devotees who throng Mumbai to have darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh every year.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Maharashtra and Vinayagar- Part 3

18 9 10

I am today writing about one of the famous Ganesh temples in Maharashtra

Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple in Pune, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesh. It is the most famous Ganapati Temple in Pune.The temple is located a short distance from the historical Shaniwar Wada fort, which was administrative headquarters of Peshwas of Maratha Empire. The temple is very popular in Maharashtra and is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year.

Devotees of the temple include celebrities and Chief Ministers of Maharashtra who visit during the annual ten day Ganeshotsav festival.The main Ganesh idol is insured for a sum of Rs 1 crore .

This temple was founded in 1893 by Dagadusheth Halwai, a sweetmeat seller who became a wealthy businessman. Halwai had lost his son the previous year, and at the request of his guru built this temple.

The Halwai Ganapati Trust carries out philanthropic work from the donations received, and is one of the richest in Maharashtra. The trust operates an old age home called Pitashree at Kondhwa in Pune. The home was built at a cost of 1.5 crore and opened in May 2003. In the same building the trust provides housing and education for 40 destitute children. Other services provided by the trust include ambulance service for poor and health clinics in tribal belts of Pune Dist.

Every year during Ganes Festival, this Temple trust erects a a very big Pandal of various themes, many a times a replica of famous temples and forts, and in this pandal( generally called Mandal here ), the Lord Ganesh is worshipped for ten days. Laks of people make it a point to visit this Mandal to seek the blessings of Vinayagar.

This richest Ganapati mandal in Pune is leaving no stone unturned to ensure maximum security for its devotees. Of the Rs 31.50 crore income, they are spending a sizeable sum on security of the several lakhs of devotees visiting every year .

As a precautionary measure against the threat of a bomb in a coconut, the Mandal will have a conveyer belt to move the traditional offerings of coconuts out of the Pandal in just 11 seconds. This way they hope to avert major disaster if bombs are planted in coconuts. For your information, over 70 lakh coconuts were offered last year to Dagdusheth Ganpati by devotees during the 10 days of the festival. About a lakh coconuts were returned to the devotees in the form of prashad,while the rest were sent for auction.Dagdusheth Ganapati's income last year from coconuts alone was Rs 28.03 lakh!

A bagging cone will be placed at the end of the 50-feet-long belt to fill the coconuts in a jute bag for faster disposal.

"Next year we will prepare a portable coconut conveyer so that the coconuts can be directly carried to the tempo parked outside," the designer of the conveyor belt, Savgaonkar, said.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Maharashtra and Vinayagar- Part 2

16 9 10

The 10 day Ganapati festival in Maharashtra starts on the Vinayaga Chaturthi Day when the public welcome the Lord in a grand manner. Here is a report on how Ganapati was welcomed in Pune.

The foot-tapping rhythm of drums, tasha' and cymbals and chants of Ganapati Bappa Morya resounded throughout the city on Saturday the 11th Sep 2010 as Puneites welcomed Lord Ganapati into their homes, societies and mandals on the first day of the Ganesh festival.

The festivities started in the morning with the processions and consecration of the five important Ganapatis, Kasba Ganapati, Tambdi Jogeshwari, Guruji Talim, Tulshibaug and Kesariwada. Students from 20 countries, giving the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is one family), participated in the procession of Kasba Ganapati, which was also accompanied by the Prabhat brass band and a team of drummers of the Samartha Pratishthan.

The Tambdi Jogeshwari procession was accompanied by Nagara players, New Gandharva brass band and drummers of Shivmudra. The drummers of Shivgarjana, attired in white salwar-kurtas and red bandhani phetas, accompanying Guruji Talim mandal, caught the eye with their performance.

When the procession reached Bajirao road, there was an impromptu jugalbandi' between the Shivgarjana team and the Samartha Pratishthan team accompanying the Jilbya Maruti mandal. This interesting duel continued for about 20 minutes before both the mandals moved ahead, mindful of the traffic jam on Bajirao road and Laxmi road.

The consecration of the famous Dagdusheth Ganapati took place at 11 am and devotees thronged the pandal for the darshan' of the jewellery-decked idol.

As the day progressed and consecration of household Ganapatis was completed, members of other public Ganesh mandals started preparations for their processions in the respective areas. trucks decorated with flowers were kept ready along with brass band teams and drummers to welcome the god of wisdom.

Children and adults alike were dressed in finery and flocking to buy the best Ganesh idol. Women in colourful sarees were busy minding the durva,' aarti thaali' and all the accessories required to welcome the deity home.

The city streets wore a crowded look till late in the evening as the processions of smaller mandals continued. Areas near the Pune municipal corporation and Sarasbaug were particularly crowded as many idol makers had put up their stalls at these places.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Maharashtra and Vinayagar- Part 1

15 9 10

We all know that Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated in a grand manner in Maharashtra. Some details on how it all started ....

n 1894, as a protest to a law passed by the British that prohibited Indians from gathering in public places, noted leader of the Indian Freedom struggle, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, initiated a drive to convert the worship of Lord Ganesha as a large scale public event.

What began as an endeavor to propagate a feeling of unity among citizens has now transformed itself into a massive cultural and social affair. Ganesh Chaturthi is singularly the most important religious festival for the whole of Maharashtra. Meticulously decorated pandals with mock ups of places of historical importance, or depicting religious themes or contemporary events mushroom all over the city where devotees throng to pay homage to the Elephant God.

The more mellowed down version of the same involves the head of the family doing a puja within the premises of the residence itself, with other family members in attendance. A popular food preparation during the time of Ganesha Chaturthi is Modak — rice dumpling stuffed with coconut, dry fruits, jaggery, etc. A number of cultural events involving song and dance, dramas, are organized alongside events with a social cause, such as blood donation camps, free medical check ups, etc. On the eleventh day, serpentine processions carry the idol for immersion—a ceremony known as ‘Visarjan’—chanting the name of the Lord and inviting him to arrive early the next year.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chennai Airport Improvements

9 9 10

I came to Pune on 6th Sep night by air.

When I entered the Chennai Airport on that day to take the flight to Pune, I could not believe my eyes. Though I was a frequent flyer before my retirement in 2004, I would have gone to Chennai airport only on a few occasions after 2004.Everytime I went there, I could see some developments taking place. This time however, there was a marked improvement and the airport has become very big ( compared to what it was six years back )

In those days,I remember that after getting out of the car just at the entrance gate, I had to walk only a few meters to the check in counter. On Monday, I had to walk for more than 5 mins to reach the check in counter! The waiting lounge has also undergone a vast change and I was wondering whether it was the same airport that I used to visit in those days.

The other improvement I could notice was in the operations side. Effective 1st Sep.,various steps for ontime departure of the flights have been introduced at Chennai airport- like passengers should report two hours prior to the sch dep time., the check in counter should be closed half an hour before the dep time,boarding should be completed before 15 mins etc- so that the flight can take off on time. Earlier, there used to be no discipline in adhering to the time schedules, as a result almost all the flights used to take off 10/15 mins behind schedule ,thus affecting the subsequent flights at the departing as well as at the destination airport.

The new initiative is a welcome one.In the 90 mins that I was at the airport, I could see that almost all the flights ( 7/8 ) took off on time. My flight in fact took off 5 mins earlier to the scheduled dep time !

On the minus side, earlier I used to take a cup of steaming coffee for Rs 5/- inside the airport.Now it has gone up by 5 times. May be a part of the cost of development is recovered this way !!