Category Archives: Ganesh Festival in Pune

Piece by piece

Ananta Tilwalkar, artisan

I have been working on the sets for Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati for over 30 years. I first got a job on the payroll, through a friend. I have always worked with wood — cutting, polishing, drilling, painting — it gives me joy; especially when I’m doing it for Ganpati.

Our instructions are clear: we have a set designer, who designs the year’s theme, and chalks out the plans. We are then assigned work in parts. The actual construction of sets starts around April. We have to start six months in advance. We work in shifts at the workshop near Sarasbaug from 7 am to 9 pm every day. Most of the artisans have been with us for over 10 years. There is very good camaraderie among us. We don’t even wear footwear when we are working on the frame where bappa will be seated.

Apart from work on the sets, I work in furniture shops and factories, as and when work comes to me. But this is the most fruitful season for me.

Subhash Sarpale, florist

I have been associated with the Dagdusheth temple for more than seven years now. I still remember my very first assignment for the Dagdusheth. It was over seven years ago, and I was to decorate the rath that brought the very first all-silver idol of Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati. Tatyasaheb Godse was so impressed with my work that he called me and asked me to decorate it for the Ganesh Chaturthi as well.

Since then, I have been decorating the pandal, the original temple, the idol as well as the chariot with flowers. I try to be original and creative each year, and with God’s grace haven’t repeated any design. The chariot is especially tricky. A few years ago we had made an all-flower chariot with two gigantic flower peacocks in the front. Since the flowers are so delicate and droop after a while, we have to work very quickly as well as efficiently.

Apart from the Ganeshotsav, I decorate the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati for other occasions such as Sankashti, Chaturthi, Angarki, Diwali, Dussehra and other festivals.

We import flowers such as orchids, carnations and roses from Singapore and Thailand. We also bring a lot of flowers from Karnataka, especially Bangalore. Apart from the orders from Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati, I have a shop in Shukrawar Peth, from where we sell flowers throughout the year.

Rajesh Sakla, benefactor

God has given a lot to me, and I like to give back as much as I can. I have been providing the flooring for the Dagdusheth pandal for over 12 years now. We only use the finest flooring tiles — the same ones that we use in our construction business, for flats and offices — such as Italian marble and granite, among others. Every year, during the Ganeshotsav, I take half-a-month off from work and personally supervise the ongoing work here. It gives me great pleasure and peace of mind.

But there is my swarth (selfish interest) in all of this as well. After the Ganeshotsav, we take back the tiles and use them in our buildings, for flats and offices. Just imagine, thousands of people come to see bappa each year. They chant holy slogans and think good thoughts. I’m sure that the positive energy goes into these tiles. So when I place them in flats and offices, our customers also feel the good vibrations. It is a circle.

Ganeshotsav 2013: Homemade idols a rage this year in Pune

PUNE: With Ganeshotsav just around the corner, Manasi Kulkarni is busy preparing to get the ‘bappa’ home. However, she has made a slight change in the ritual. Instead of getting a ready idol from the market, she has made one herself.

With just a few days to go for Ganeshotsav, Manasi Kulkarni is almost at the last leg of her shopping for decoration material. But this year, her Ganapati idol will not come from the market as she has made one herself and is eagerly waiting to consecrate it in her house for the upcoming ten days of worship.

Like Manasi, several families in the city have chosen the traditional way of worship – sculpting the idols themselves. These idols are eco-friendly and economical, but more than that they are helping families bond better and creatively.

With a basic idea about the shape of a Ganapati idol in mind and little bit training from sculptors about handling clay, many Puneites say they have experienced unparalleled satisfaction while making idols.

“We bring home the Ganapati every year. It hurts to see the idol being immersed in the river after 10 days. This time, I have made my own Ganapati with clay which easily dissolves in water and can be re-used at home. Even the colours that I have used are eco-friendly. The entire process was easy and engaged our entire family in true festive spirit. I attended a workshop on how to mould the Ganapati idol this year. Next year, I will make it at home without any help,” said Manasi.

In our workshop, we were taught how to systematically make different body parts of Ganapati, and then to combine them together. It almost feels like you are bringing someone alive,” she said.

Vimannagar resident Swati Kulkarni said making her own Ganapati has given her the freedom to decorate it according to her choice. “It’s simple to do, but a great feeling to mould the idol and then embellish it too. Now I can use clay to make a lot of things,” she said.

For Shubhada Dalvi, it was not just about learning a new craft but also keeping the environment clean. “It’s a good feeling that I have played a real part in bringing the Lord home.

I prefer to keep the idol natural, without any colours. At the end of 10 days, we will not immerse him in the river, rather symbolically dissolve it in a bucket on our roof, thus preventing the kind of pollution caused by idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP),” she said.

Across the city, artists and sculptors have been conducting idol making workshops. Mandar Marathe, who has been conducting Ganapati-making workshops for the last four years at his Kothrud studio, said there is a 20-fold increase in the number of registrations this year. “The trend has definitely picked up with each passing year. Modelling your Ganapati idol yourself is also a form of worship.

While it requires no special skill, the best thing about Lord Ganesha is his flexibility of form. Even if yours doesn’t look like the rest, he is still unique and exclusively your own creation,” he said, adding that he has had students of 8 to 80 years of age.

With the rising demand, Marathe has even created online video tutorials too. “There are people in different parts of the world, from US to Bangalore and Delhi who wish to celebrate Ganeshotsav, but are not able to find Ganapati idols in their local markets. Clay on the other hand is easily available and at least 21 people this year have availed the online workshop that I have created,” he said.

According to Marathe, the easy availability of raw material also makes idol making popular. “While PoP provides durability, the structures made with them are highly polluting. Natural clay is easy to handle, and once you immerse the idol in water, you end up giving back to nature,” he said.

Yamini Rathii, who too has been conducting idol making classes around the city since the last three years, said awareness about the environmental impact of PoP has made people turn to natural clay. “Even small children understand the concepts of pollution and encourage their families to bring home eco-friendly idols. The method of teaching includes making different shapes using clay, and then assembling them together. The entire process need not take more than two hours,” she said, explaining that over 80% of her students this year have pledged to consecrate their hand-made idols.

Artists Dilip and Darshana Thakar, who are conducting one such workshop in a city mall on Saturday, believe its all about the interest in doing something of your own. “It’s not so much about getting the shape and structure perfect, but about learning a new craft. The facial features of the Ganapati idol are the only tricky part, the rest is easy,” they said.


Host of events to mark silver jubilee celebrations of Pune Festival

Pune Festival is all set to feature a host of exciting events to mark its silver jubilee celebrations. The ten-day festival will kick off on September 9 at Ganesh Kala Krida Rangmanch.

The festival will be inaugurated by Kalpil Sibal, Union Minister for Communication, IT, Law and Justice, Daniele Mancini, Ambassador of Italy, Chhagan Bhujbal, Minister for Tourism, Maharashtra, Narayan Rane, Minister for Industry, Patangrao Kadam, Minister for Forests, and Harshvardhan Patil, Minister for Co-operation among others.

The programme will start with a dance ballet titled Ganesh Vandana, conceptualised by actor Hema Malini, who has also been appointed as the chairperson of the festival’s silver jubilee committee. The actor will perfom Radha Raasbihari along with her daughters and troupe on September 14.

“The dance sequence was performed at ISCKON temple at Juhu on the eve of Janamasthami last night,” said Malini.

“Organising a festival like this year after year is not an easy task. Many people organise fancy festivals but give up after managing to organise just two or three editions. My association with Pune Festival goes back 20 years, when I used to perform Bharatnatyam pieces,” she added.

All-star event titled Panchtatva will also be performed during the inauguration. The programme will feature veteran musicians Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chourasia, Selva Ganesha, U Srinivas, Shridhar Parthasarthi, Ramkumar Mishra and Subhankar Banerajee. This will be followed by a Bollywood musical featuring popular vocalists like Shaan, Akriti Kakkad and Bela Shende among others. Mimicry artist Sunil Pal will also take the stage. A special photo exhibition will be organised to showcase the history of the festival besides a painting exhibition by women artists.

“Since the ban on bullock cart race has been revoked, we are excited about organising it. Till now, over 1,200 carts have registered for the race,” said Krishnakant Kudale, Chief Coordinator. Other sports events will include a golf tournament, boxing tournament and a roll ball competition.

The Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal will organise the bullock cart race. On the occasion, Narendra Singh, CMD, Bank of Maharashtra, will be felicitated with the Pune Festival Award.

The grand finale will feature a choreography by Nikita Moghe to be be performed by actors Isha Kopikar, Urmila Matolkar, Varsha Usgaonkar, Sharvari Jamenis, Tejaswini Lonari and others.


To reduce wait time, mandal proposes to precede the Manache

Traffic DCP says mandals moving out for immersion in the day, instead of in the evening, will reduce the entire time taken by at least five to six hours


The discontent over the long hours of wait in the Ganpati immersion procession, that has been making its presence felt among the mandals that follow the five Manache Ganpati to the riverside, may well be a thing of the past if the proposal put forward by the Hatti Ganpati Mandal is implemented.

The mandal has proposed that it precede the Manache by taking out its procession in the day, instead of at 5 pm, which has been the norm till now. “Bickering among the mandals over who will go ahead in the queue on Tilak Road has been going up since the last five years.

Around 140 mandals line up on this road as part of the immersion procession. The problem is acute at Abhinav College chowk, where we get stuck. Other mandals try to jump the queue and then there are fights.

Last year, our progress was blocked at this chowk for four hours,” said Sham Mankar, the mandal’s president for the last 30 years. He added, “The main reason behind our proposal is to avoid lengthy processions, which holds up the public till late at night. It ultimately creates pressure on the police.

As per tradition, our mandal starts out from Swargate chowk at 5 pm, proceeds via Tilak Road till Durvankur Hotel chowk, and then from there for immersion to Alka Talkies chowk.” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare agrees.

“We are hoping other mandals that follow the Hatti Ganpati mandal support this proposal, as it will help to reduce the total time taken to complete the immersion procedure by at least five to six hours,” he said.

The last three years have seen the procession take well over a day — 28.5 hours in 2012, 27.47 hours in 2011 and 27.15 hours in 2010. Pandhare added, “Hatti Ganpati mandal’s initiative to start their procession during the day, and that too from Tilak Road, will certainly reduce the pressure on the police on Laxmi Road as the publice lines both roads to take in the processions.

They have set an example for other mandals, and if many mandals follow their lead, we can round up this last-day event in less time. It will also benefit the public as there will be traffic congestion will be reduced on Laxmi Road and Tilak Road.”

This year, the Hatti Ganpati mandal has lined up performers from other states on Tilak Road to add colour to the immersion procession. “We are bringing in artistes from eight to ten other states, who will display their tradition, folk dances alongside our procession.

We hope this will divert citizens to Tilak Road and ease the pressure on Laxmi Road,” said Mankar. The Hatti Ganpati mandal’s immersion procession consists of a decorated rath bearing the main Ganpati idol, preceded by four to five dhol pathakas, two musical bands and one group of singers.

The mandal use bulls to pull the rath rather using a tractor, and the entire mix occupies almost two km of road. “This year, we will start the procession at noon from Swargate, and we hope to finish by 4 pm.

We have appealed to other mandals in the city to start early, if possible. Together, we can finish the entire immersion within 24 hours,” Mankar said. “The decision of Hatti Ganpati to proceed in the day is good.

We are behind them in the procession on Tilak Road, and it usually takes us a long time,” said Sanjay Balgude, president of the Guruwar Peth-based Khadakmal Aali Mandal.

Shirish Mohite, president Seva Mitra Mandal on Shivaji Road, welcomed this decision, saying, “We are in favour of starting the immersion procession in the day, after learning of Hatti Ganpati mandal’s proposal.

We will take a final call after consulting with other members of our mandal.” Natu Baug mandal, Bajirao Road, president Pramod Kondhare, though, isn’t in favour of the proposal. “Our mandal has decorative lighting, so it cannot be taken out during the day.

The public specially come to see our lighting, so we start out around 7 pm. Hatti Ganpati Mandal’s decision is fine, but I fear it will affect the small mandals. The time taken for small mandals to complete the immersion will be affected if the Hatti Ganpati procession goes on till late evening.”

Pune Ganesh pandal that spreads awareness against child abuse

This Ganesh festival, the Sai Nath Mandal Trust at Budhwar Peth aims to spread awareness against child abuse. “Over these 10 days, we will conduct a variety of plays and an exhibition of posters and newspaper articles at our pandal to highlight this issue,” said Piyush Ramesh Shah, working president at Sai Nath Mandal Trust.

There are paintings on display that demonstrate how children must protect themselves against sexual abuse. The paintings have been done by Amit Dhane, who is a friend of Shah. “We do our children wrong by not listening to them or just taking what they say lightly. We need to have conversation with them and educate them about what it is appropriate and what is offensive,” says Shah.

The second play that we have prepared is about a boy who is molested by his uncle. His parents do not believe him and this brings about disastrous consequences. “The message that we want to send out is for all parents to take care of their children, believe them and keep an eye out for something that might affect them and spoil their childhood,” he added. The short plays are informative yet entertaining with a mix of dance, song and dialogues. “During this festive season, even though we want to spread a social message, we do not want to make coming to our pandal a sombre experience. We want people to be entertained as well as informed and educated on such issues. For this, we have decided to infuse an element of song and dance in our plays,” he added.


Ganapati comes home to sounds of dhol tasha in Pune

Pune woke up to a day of celebrations as Ganapati ‘Bappa’ marched into the city amidst beating dhols and reverberating incantations of ‘Ganapati bappa morya’ on Wednesday.

Yet, several parts of the city saw somewhat subdued celebrations, said festival patrons. Anand Saraf, a researcher on the festival in the city, said, “Areas such as Mahatma Phule Mandai, Shanipar chowk, Bel baug chowk and Shaniwarwada, among others, witnessed the full strength of celebrations. Youngsters’ participation this year was particularly impressive. However, other areas away from the interiors were relatively quiet this year.”

Saraf said that subdued celebrations in some parts of the city could be attributed to the on-going recession, with almost 60% mandals deciding to do away with mandap decorations and tableaux.

“However, celebrations in societies seem to be on a rise. I have seen more people this year wanting to celebrate the festival with their families inside their society,” he said.

The procession of the Kasba Ganapati, the first ‘manache’ Ganapati, was carried out with equal splendor it exhibits each year. The idol’s installation was done at 11:16 am at the hands of eminent scientist Vijay Bhatkar. As 120 enthusiastic members of Samartha Prathisthan and Shriwardhan ‘dhol-tasha’ groups performed joyously, as a new idol of lord Ganesha was placed in a palkhi made of silver.

It was then carried out in a procession through Laxmi Road, Budhwar chowk, among other areas, and later to the Kasba Ganapati mandap, where it was installed with much fanfare.

“There were 1,000-odd people participating in the procession. Unlike earlier, we did not throw ‘gulal’ into the air. Instead, we had two volunteers applying ’tilak’ on the foreheads of the participants,” said Bharat Rathod, president, Kasba Ganpati Mandal.

The second manache Ganapati, the Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganapati, was installed at 12 noon amidst much fanfare and celebrations.

The third Ganapati of honor, Guruju Talim, was six feet tall this year. The Shivgarjana Dhol pathak comprising 100 members along with 70 ladies of the group NaadBrahma (all of who donned ‘kesari phetas’ and nose rings) beguiled those in the procession with their performance.

The ‘Pran Pratishthapana’ of the idol took place at 12:30 pm.

The fourth Ganapati of honor, the Tulshibaug Ganapati, a 15-feet idol made of fiber glass in 1988, was not carried out in a procession. But the mandal volunteers rang in the festival with ‘sthir avarthan’ or a stationary dhol-tasha performance by a 100 members of the Gajalaxmi dhol pathak, who donned the Gandhi ‘topi’. “Advocate Anil Hirve, who undertook the ‘Pran Pratishthapana’ of the idol, donated us an ornate, wooden ‘chaurang’ upon which the idol was placed and taken to its seat of honor,” said Nitin Pandit, treasurer, Tulshebaug mandal. The decor of the mandap was based on the ‘peacock’ theme.

Meanwhile, the Hathi Ganapati mandal carried its idol in a procession that went through Tilak Road, Alka talkies chowk and finally to Navi Peth amidst 500-odd people. Two bands and two dhol-tasha groups played vigorously. The ‘Pran Pratishthapana’ of the Hathi Ganapati idol was done at 8 pm.

Woman carries on family legacy of painting 118-yr-old idol in Pune

In the winding bylanes of the old city, behind the Mahatma Phule Mandai, preparations are in full swing for the upcoming Ganesh festival. The excitement at the Akhil Mandai Mandal, however, is of a different kind. Today, 118 years ago, the idol was first installed on the premises of the temple located near the Mandai. And it is here that Sangeeta Vedpathak has been continuing another tradition — that of painting the idol.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Sangeeta has been painting the idol of Lord Ganesha every year for the last 13 years. “My father did this for almost 50 years. I do not know who painted the idol before he started. But we have been doing it for over 60 years now,” she says.

The idol itself has stood the test of time. Over the years, the temple authorities have tried to install a new one in its place only to see the latter either develop cracks or break. “They then installed the old idol. Every year, I paint the idol afresh,” she says.

Repainting the idol is a three-step process. “First, we remove the existing colours. The idol is then given a white coat and then painted,” Sangeeta says. “The idea is to make the idol seem as realistic as possible. Since my father’s time, the main task has been to make the statue seem lifelike, so devotees feel a connect with the deity.”

For Sangeeta, painting the idol is a matter of three weeks and a half. “I work with the agriculture department. My husband Vivek and son Pratik also help me while I work on the statue. It’s wonderful to see people appreciate my efforts,” she says. Even the colours that are used for the painting correspond with the ones that are used during the major puja. “Giving it a fresh coat not only preserves the statue but also gives it a new look every year,” she adds.


To spread green message, 600 children shape Ganesh out of clay

In the run-up to the Ganesh festival, 600-odd children have been literally getting hands-on experience at making the festival an environmental friendly one. They have been learning to make Ganpati idols using Shadu Mati’ (clay) at workshops organised by Big Bazaar in association with The Indian Express.

The aim was spreading the message that clay idols disperse easily in water compared to plaster of paris idols that lead to water pollution after immersion. Thousands of idols, big and small, are immersed in water bodies every year during the festival.

The clay idols the children made at workshops are on display at Big Bazaar stores in Kothrud, Pimpri, and Amanora Town Centre. Students of several schools in Kothrud, Pimpri and Hadapsar areas participated in the workshop hosted by famous sculptor Abhijit Dhondphale.

Every session featured a talk by Dhondphale on the significance of the Ganesh festival followed by a presentation on the professional idol-making that involves blueprint sketches, collection of clay, and a step-by-step insight into daily work of a professional idol maker. He also sculpted a Ganesh idol for participants to learn the art.

The clay was brought from Konkan region and distributed among participants. Dhondphale assisted them in shaping the idols.

“We labelled each idol with details of the student who made it. The idols are on display at our stores,” said Ashwin P. Deo, marketing manager, Big Bazaar, Future Group, Pune. They can be bought and the cost ranges from Rs 21 to Rs 51.

Dhondphale has sorted the idols according to perfection and finish.

“The proceeds from the sale will be donated to NGOs in the city working for children,” said Deo and added, “The initiative was to spreading awareness on preventing pollution.” Three students who made the best idols will get certificates and gift vouchers on September 19 5 pm at Amanora Big Bazaar, Hadapsar.”


Peshwas celebrated with splendour

PUNE: The Ganeshotsav festival that we celebrate with so much fervour was an annual affair in Pune even during the Peshwa era. If the accounts of the festivities then are to be believed, the Peshwas celebrated Ganeshotsav with unparalleled splendour from 1750 till 1800, spending at least Rs 1 lakh annually on it.

History researcher Pandurang Balkawde, who found records of expenses incurred on the festival during the aforementioned period at the Peshwa Daftar in Pune Archives, said that the Peshwas would celebrate the festival in Shaniwarwada‘s darbar hall back then.

Balkawde said that the Peshwas had a Ganeshotsav of their own 250 years ago. “The accounts, which are written in the Modi script, give a detailed description of how the festival was celebrated then. It is believed that the elephant God was the family deity of the Peshwas, which is why the darbar hall in the wada was named as Ganesh Rang Mahal. Before laying the foundation stone of the wada, the Peshwas installed a Ganesh idol at its precincts, while the gate to the east was named Ganesh Darwaza,” he said.

The darbar hall had its very own Ganesh idol, which was crafted in pure gold. “Peshwas would regularly assemble there out of devotion and love for Ganapati. The festival was observed in the Hindu calender month of Bhaadrapada for a period of five days. A Ganesh idol made of mud would be placed before the gilded idol to herald the festival. As many as 50 artistes – both Hindus and Muslims – including goldsmiths, painters, carpenters and blacksmiths, would be employed to design and decorate the ‘makhar’ (decorative structure) surrounding the idol,” he said, adding that expensive metals such as gold and silver were used in the decoration.

The installation would be followed with elaborate prayer ceremonies by as many as 51 priests, from morning till night. “In addition, hundreds of singers and dancers belonging to varied castes, creeds, religions and coming from different corners of India would perform at the darbar hall during all the five days of the festival. The Peshwas would pay them in cash and kind. People from all over Maharashtra would visit the wada to witness the festivities and they would be served lavish meals twice during the day,” said Balkawde.

According to Balkawde, the Ganeshotsav celebration then speaks at length about India’s culture and its unity in diversity. “Even then, the festival had people belonging to different creeds, sects and faiths assemble together, which is an excellent example of India’s oneness,” he added.



Ganesh Chaturti of Pune

Today Pune has the best kind of celebrations when festivals like Ganpati come and there are mandals which are built without digging the road and keeping the traffic and environment in mind. Pune has a system of having the whole celebration streamlined. It organizes competitions for decorations, concept, theme etc and thus brings about a sense of discipline and responsibility on the organizers. Those mandals which focus on environmental causes, rainwater harvesting, nature conservation etc get some special recognition. This inspires many mandals to have blood donation camps, campaigns on the importance of the girl child, spreading the awareness of AIDS etc.

In such circumstances it becomes necessary to get to know some of the major mandals in Pune.

Kasba Ganpati First Ganpati of Honor in Pune

Existing since the year 1893, this is located in the Kasba Peth in Pune. Since then it has occupied the first position. It is believed that a Ganpati idol was discovered near the residence of one Shri Vinayak Thakar. In sheer devotion, he got a temple constructed here. This is the Gram Daivat of the idol. Today the mandal has the best tableaux ever. It draws inspiration from history, social issues and epics. There are stories from Sai Baba’s life, or sometimes it is something historical. With Anna Hazare, the social activist catching everyone’s interest, even that becomes a topic for mandals. Visit this mandal to see what the surprise is this year.

Tambdi Jogeshwari Second Ganpati of Honor in Pune

This is the second most popular of the Ganpati idols in the city of Pune. Existing since the year 1893, it is located at Budhwar Peth. This is one of the idols that were erected when Lokmanya Tilak, the Indian leader started the festival with the idea of uprising the social Indian class. Today this centenary and seven year old mandal is a unique combination of devotion and creativity. The idol very much resembles elephants from Africa.

Guruji Talim Third Ganpati of Honor in Pune

Third in the line of popularity, this Ganpati is located at the Ganpati Chowk in Laxmi road in the city of Pune. This was started in the year 1887 and existed even before the Indian leader Lokmanya Tilak publicized the festival for the betterment of the masses. This established a unity between the Hindus and the Muslims. This was incidentally the first among the mandals which celebrated a 100 years of existence.

Tulsibaug Fourth Ganpati of Honor in Pune

This is the fourth line of fame in the Ganpati mandals. This is also the oldest and the famous mandal in the city of Pune. It is more famous for its huge idol and also amongst the first to make an idol out of fiber glass. Mr. D.S. Khataokar is the architect who creates this idol measuring 15 feet.

Kesariwada  Fifth Ganpati of Honor in Pune

Located at Narayanpeth in Tilakwada in Pune, this Ganpati mandal exists since the year 1893. This is important as it was established by the Indian leader Lokmanya Tilak. With issues of social causes always depicted and the awareness spread, this mandal has a social programme with speeches given by experienced people. It also encourages children and women to take part in competitions organized.

Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Sarvajanik Ganpati

Having the dubious distinction of being the richest Ganpati in the city, the Puneites come here to visit their favourite idol. Existing since 1893, it is managed by the trust of the same name


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