Vinayakrao Peshwa — the 9th descendant of the historic Peshwa dynasty who built the seven-storeyed Shaniwarwada — lives in a bungalow named ‘Raghunath’ off Prabhat Road. Along with wife Jaimangala and son Pushkar, he celebrates Ganeshotsav every year in his house. They are celebrating Ganapati since they started living in the city in 1932.

The Peshwas used to celebrate Ganeshotsav in Ganesh Mahal at the Shaniwarwada every year. “The tradition continued between 1711 and 1818 at the Wada,” said Vinayakrao. “Nanasaheb Peshwa had taken up Ganapati celebrations in a big way from 1740 onwards and Madhavrao Peshwa was a staunch devotee of the God.”

Krishnarao Peshwa, the elder brother of Vinayakrao passed away recently. “It is really sad that this year we are worshipping Ganapati without my dada,” he said.

Krishnarao’s wife Ushadevi, son Mahendra and daughter Mohini come to Vinayakrao’s house to join in the festivities.Ganapati is the God of creativity and art, music and culture, said Jaimangala.

Peshwas were expelled from the city after the 1857 revolt as Nanasaheb Peshwa was declared a revolutionary and his property including Shaniwarwada and other places were confiscated by the government.

After the fall of Peshwa in 1818, the descendants had gone to Bithur in Uttar Pradesh and some of the family members went to Varanasi. “None of the Peshwa descendants were allowed to enter the city till 1932. Our own Shaniwarwada went to the Archeological Survey of India after independence,” Vinayakrao said.

Without inheriting any of the property from the Peshwa regime, Vinayakrao and his brother Krishnarao had to earn their livelihood from zero. “By the grace of God and our hard work everything went fine and we are now in a good position once again,” Vinayakrao said proudly.  

Basically, the Peshwas’ family God is Lord Shiva, but they worship Ganapati as one of the five Gods. Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa constructed Saras Bag Ganapati temple in 1784. “We had a grand celebration for completing 225 years last year,” Vinayakrao said.

Balaji Bajirao alias Nanasaheb Peshwa was known to be the true creatorof Pune who virtually created all the peths (business areas) in the city.

He made the ghats on Mula-Mutha rivers and also constructed temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesh in the city between 1750-80. Vinayakrao said his household Ganapati was made by a traditional Ganapati sculptor. “Gokale makes our domestic Ganapati sitting with his two wives Riddih and Siddhi,” he said.

“The stay of Ganapati is for seven days after the installation as per the Peshwa tradition and then it is immersed in the Mutha river.”At Kashi, Amrutrao Peshwa cherished a desire to install an idol of Ganapati in a temple of his own.

The idea became a reality in 1807. “The sculptors of Maharashtra carved images of the deities and transported them to Varanasi for installation,” he said.Vinayakrao also goes to Kashi for the pooja.

“This historic temple completed 200 years on November 7, 2007,” Vinayakrao said.Peshwas were known for building temples on Parvati Hills.

Nanasaheb Peshwa established Dev Deveshwar Sanstan in 1749 where the temples of Shiva, Parvati, Ganapati and even Kartik Swami (Ganpati’s brother) were built. The deities were decorated with gold ornaments.

“Peshwa used to keep the gold ornaments in a treasury at Sinhagadh especially during the war,” said noted historian Pramod Oak. “The Kalas (top metal piece of the temple) were made with gold and was looted by the Nizam during the Pune attack in 1762. Even an 800 tola golden Ganapati deity was stolen in 1932 at Parvati Hills.”

“We have a Ganapati made of marble in the temple at Parvati Hill. This is known as Sadaretil Ganapati,” said Vinayakrao, who is trustee of Dev Deveshwar Sansthan.

Vinayakrao’s son Pushkar; who is an architect, said: “I have great faith in Lord Ganapati and we recite the Sahastra Avartan (Ganesh verses) which gives us immense pleasure of pooja.”

Mahendra Peshwa, son of Krishnarao, said, “Our family tradition of worshiping Lord Ganesh will certainly be carried on by the coming generations,” he said. 

The Peshwas
The Peshwas who worship Ganapati completed 10 generations. They are: Balaji Vishwananth Peshwa, Balaji Bajirao alias Nanasaheb Peshwa, Raghunathrao Peshwa, Amrutrao Peshwa,  Vinayakrao Peshwa, Thorle Madhavrao Peshwa, Krishnarao Peshwa, Vishwanathrao Peshwa, Krishnarao and Vinayakrao Peshwa, Mahendra and Pushkar Peshwa

Source: Mid-Day