With chants of Ganapati Bappa Moraya, lakhs of Mumbaikars on Thursday welcomed Hindu Lord Ganesha on the first day of the 11-day festival that saw idols of the elephant-headed god being installed in homes and at thousands of marquees across the city. Some of the prominent marquees and idols have been insured for crores of rupees.
Religious fervour and gaiety marked the beginning of the Ganesh festival and the morning saw devotees consecrating the idols, reciting mantras, filling the air with holy sound waves, and the evening was geared up for the first "maha aarti" of the day. According to state Home Minster RR Patil, nearly two lakh idols were installed across the city - of these 10,350 are at Ganesh Mandals (associations) and 1,80,650 belong to local households. Since last week, nearly 250,000 big and small idols started arriving in the city from artisans' studios in different parts of Mumbai and Raigad for the festival, said Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti president Naresh Dahibhavkar.
Rs2.22 billion insurance cover
With the biggest Ganesh mandals getting an insurance cover worth crores, the GSB Mandal in King's Circle of central Mumbai has insured its pandal, devotees and the deity's ornaments for a whopping Rs2.22 billion this year. The mandal has also insured the members of the trust, an all-risk policy for the gold ornaments of the deity and personal accident insurance for devotees,? said trustee Satish Nayak.
The insurance is for 15 days starting August 27. Last year, the insurance cover for the mandal stood at Rs.49.5 crore. This year, it is around five times more.
However, Ganesh Chaturthi is among the noisiest festivals, with hundreds of sarvajanik (public) functions being organised across the metropolis.
While millions of people visit these sarvajanik Ganpathi 'mandals' and pray to the Hindu deity of Ganesha daily, many of the organisers put up elaborate settings and also feature Bollywood songs. Loudspeakers blare filmy music from early morning till late at night, often violating the Supreme Court-ordered 10pm restriction. At most of these events, the noise levels are way above the authorised 55 decibels (dB) during daytime and 45 dB at night.
In fact, anti-noise activists have recorded noise levels that are often more than twice the limit set by the authorities. It is not uncommon to come across Ganesh organisers blasting film music at night, where the noise levels reach 110 dB or even 120 dB, which are positively harmful for humans.
Public celebration of Ganesh chaturthi was first initiated by freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak in the 1890s, who wanted to organise all Indians in the common fight against the colonial rulers, by bringing them together at a popular festival.