Danapur, situated on the outskirts of the state capital, is all set to worship Lord Ganesha in a grand manner as ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’, Maharashtra‘s most famous festival, draws near. “Though there are many places across Bihar where this festival is celebrated, it is only at Danapur that it is celebrated in a big way, with over one lakh people visiting the place and offering their prayers before Lord Ganesha during the 10-day celebration,” said Om Prakash Yadav, one of the organizers in the suburban town.

Yadav, who is general secretary of the Rising Club and Business Association, Danapur, said they are again busy making arrangements for the celebration of the festival with religious fervour and gaiety.

“We are celebrating this festival every year since 1990 and every year thousands of people come here to make ‘mannat’ (wish) before the Lord. A large many come to offer silver ‘khadau’ (footwear) and umbrella to Him after their ‘mannat’ is fulfilled. We believe that Lord Ganesha visits this pandal every year and all the ‘mannats’ of devotees are heard and fulfilled by him,” said Parshuraam, secretary of the association.

This year, on September 19, the idols of Lord Ganesha along with Siddhi-Riddhi, Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna, Lord Hanuman and Sai Baba would be placed in the pandal spread over 400 square feet. Haalu Ghosh, an idol maker from Krishnanagar, West Bengal, who is in this craft for the last 25 years, is busy making a lifelike clay idol of Lord Ganesha for the last two months.

“The size of Ganesh idol will be 10 feet while the remaining idols will be of seven feet each,” said Ghosh, adding, “We have bought the clothes of these idols from Patna while their jewellery would be made out of clay.” All the decoration on the wooden throne, on which the idols of these deities would be placed, will be of clay. The contract for preparation of the wooden thrones for these idols has been given to a Danapur-based carpenter, Amit Kumar.

On the first day of the Puja on September 19, priest Shambhu Jha along with four more priests, all clad in dhoti and shawl, would invoke life into the idol of Lord Ganesha amid the chanting of mantras. “This ritual is called ‘pranpratistha’. After this, the usual Ganesh vandana, aarti and puja will be done in morning and evening for the next 10 days. Though we do follow the procedure mentioned in ‘Ganesha Purana’, we don’t follow the Maharashtrian rituals; we celebrate it in Bihar style. For 10 days, at the mandap, the celebration will kick off every day with the chanting of mantras and prayers offered by priests. On the last day, an ‘aarti’ will be held. It will continue till evening and conclude with a ‘hawan’, after which priests will shake the edge of the throne of Lord Ganesha symbolizing that now he can go and is no more present at that place,” said Yadav.

On the 11th day, the idol will be taken through the streets of Danapur in a procession consisting of thousands of people shouting “Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” (O father Ganesha, come again next year) and accompanied with dance and music. Finally, the idols would be immersed in the Ganga at Peepa pul ghat, symbolizing a ritual send-off to the Lord.

During this 10-day-long festival, the committee will also organize a small fair having stalls of clothes, handicrafts, accessories and food items, and swings for the entertainment of visiting devotees. They will get laddoo, til, suji ka halwa and elaichi dana as ‘prasad’.