You know Delhi has officially adopted the tradition when what is arguably the biggest, grandest, Ganpati Puja in the city, is organized by a group which has just one bona fide Maharashtrian in it. The Raja Lalbagacha Ganpati Mahotsav?Delhi’s version of it?is being held on a grand scale. It covers 10,000 square feet of Netaji Subhash Place Ground; has an idol that’s 14 feet tall and set on a six-foot high stage; and, according to its organizers, was visited by over 10,000 worshippers on the first day. Festivities will continue till September 8.
“We wanted to welcome Ganpati in the north as well,” explains Rajesh Gupta, secretary of the trust and mela mantri. “And most of those visiting are Delhiites.” There are few Maharashtrians where the mahotsav is being organized, concedes Gupta?himself a Delhiite?but adds that the team has informed Marathi groups in other parts of the city?east and south in particular?and people are visiting.
There’s ?modak’?a sweet dumpling served as Prasad ?for everyone. There are cultural programmes every evening and Gupta promises the best of Delhi’s performers. Actors from the television series, Bharat Ka Veer Putra?Maharana Pratap, will visit. It’s hard to organize a do of this scale on the first attempt; most of the trust members are seasoned organizers of such religious festivals. Gupta himself is involved in organizing Ramlilas.
This is not the only non-Maharashtrian group to organize a Ganpati festival in the city. “Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the participation of non-Maharashtrians. Many small traders’ associations organize their own festivals,” observes Yashpal Mhaskar who is associated with a number of Ganpati festivals across the city and also runs a website that keeps track of the number of mandals?and Marathis?in Delhi.
There are ones organized by members of the community at Anandvan Society (Pashchim Vihar), Datta Vinayak Mandir (Janakpuri), Vitthal Mandir (RK Puram), Anand Vihar (organized by Purvanchanl Maharashtra Mandal), Naya Bazar and Karol Bagh. “There are about 50-60 Ganpati utsavs organized across the city,” says Mhaskar. There is a state-sponsored Ganpati Utsav that’s organized at Maharashtra Sadan on Copernicus Marg every year.