Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety all over India and more so in Maharashtra since the time Lokmanya Tilak brought this festival to the general public at a time when it was confined to the homes of people and the palaces of the Peshwas and Maharajas. Giving it a Sarvajanik flavor to bring forth the unity of the people was one of the reasons that this festival was given the 10-day solemnity it bears.
In Pune, the Ganesh Festival is much looked forward to at the end of the monsoons. The birth of Lord Ganesha falls on the 4th day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Bhadrapad which usually comes around August or September. Ganesh idols are brought home or to the places of common worship and worshipped daily. This festival is observed for a period of 10 days; from the Chaturthi to the Anant Chaturdhashi which culminates in the immersion of the Ganesh idol in the rivers and lakes of the city.
A colorful and joyful festiveness marks the entire 10 days in Pune where Ganesh Mandals compete with each other in terms of decoration, lighting and even the shape and size of the Ganesh idol.
The Ganesh Festival in Pune is so famous, that some people make it a point to visit Pune during this time to be a part of the celebration. The Pune Festival also coincides with the Ganesh Festival at times and is a bonus for the visiting tourist.
The immersion procession begins with the five Manache Ganpati (or the first in honour) namely the Kasba Peth Ganpati, the Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganpati, the Guruji Talim Ganpati, the Tulshibaug Ganpati and the Kesari Wada Ganpati in that order. Besides these, the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati is famous for its idol decked with gold ornaments and the Natubaug Ganpati that is famous for its decoration using lighting. The Mahatma Phule Market or the Mandai Ganpati as it is known is also quite popular.
All one needs to do is go to the Deccan area and then start walking towards the main city areas. You can also assemble at particular points near the different Chowk areas and watch the colorful processions go by. Many spectators have been found to be unable to resist the temptation of joining the crowd dancing to the tunes of popular songs or the beats of the 'dhol' and 'lezim'.
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