Public festivals are typically a marvellous treat for the senses, filled with brilliant colour, sound and fervour and the Ganesh Utsav is among the biggest of them all. If there’s one aspect that marks out this festival from others, it’s the ability of organizers and artisans to give the celebration a contemporary twist.
This year, Ganesha’s 10-day sojourn on earth is an occasion to highlight current, hot-potato social issues and events. One Mumbai mandal spreads awareness about the evils of female foeticide, another highlights the tragedy of farmer suicides with a 22 ft Ganesha suspended in mid-air. Elsewhere, artisans are busy churning out plump Ganesha souvenirs clad in white dhotis and Gandhi caps – a tribute to the aging anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, whose recent agitation gained a nationwide following. The theme has been picked up by Ganesha mandals in other parts of India as well.
In 2011, Mumbai’s most popular Ganesha, Lalbaugcha Raja gets an 11 lb (5 kg) golden necklace and a traditional Paithani stole made of Japanese satin as birthday gifts. At nearby Ganesh Galli, local artisans have fashioned a replica of the architecturally splendid Mallikarjun Jyotirling Temple in Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh).