Pune Ganeshotsav – A Devotional Journey

Pune has a unique distinction of being known as the Oxford of the East. It is also the Cultural Capital of Maharashtra and the birth place of Sarvajanik (Public) Ganeshotsav celebrations. Lets walk through a devotional journey of the Pune Ganeshotsav.

Youth joyously dancing with the traditional Bhagva (Orange coloured flag)
Youth joyously dancing with the traditional Bhagva (Orange coloured flag)

Pune Ganeshotsav: An Introduction of Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha or Ganpati or Vinayaka is one of the most-worshipped deities in Hindu religion. Chanting the name of Lord Ganesha (Ganpati Bappa Moraya!) before starting any work is considered to be highly auspicious and brings Good Luck. As per Hindu mythology, Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and bears the head of an elephant. It is believed that Ganpati is the master of 14 Techniques and 64 Arts and is also known as Buddhidata (Giver of Intellect).

Pune Ganeshotsav: History

Women exhibiting the traditional game Lezim during the Immersion procession

Historic references tell us that Ganeshotsav has been celebrated since the era of the great Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In Pune, during the reigns of the Peshwas, Ganeshotsav was considered an annual festival and was started at the historic Shaniwar Wada. However, the festival gained popularity when Indian freedom fighter and social reformer, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, revived the celebrations of Ganeshotsav by extending it till Anant Chaturdashi in 1893. He turned it into a large-scale public event in hopes to unite Indians in their freedom struggle against the British Raj. Through this festival large number of people came together, and it also became a source of political awakening and instilled social reforms against the British government.

Pune Ganeshotsav - Enthusiastic men and women playing Dhols during the procession
Enthusiastic men and women playing Dhols during the procession

Pune Ganeshotsav: A Tradition

Dancing to the beats of Dhol

The tradition of celebrating Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav has been followed for more than 125 years since its inception. Every year, Pune Ganeshotsav begins on the 4th day (Chaturthi) and ends on the 14th day (Chaturdashi) of the Marathi calendar. It lasts for 10 to 12 days between the months of August and September of the Gregorian calendar every year. The immersion procession on the last day begins with the special five Sarvajanik Ganpati Mandals leading the way. Each Ganesh Mandal in the procession is accompanied by multiple Dhol Pathaks (groups). They are also known as Manache Paach Ganpati (Five most honoured Ganesh Idols) within the city. You will see spirited youth playing and dancing their way to the Ghats where the idols are immersed after performing poojas with teary eyes chanting – Ganpati Bappa Moraya Pudhchya.. Varshi Lavkar Ya (Lord Ganesha Bless Us.. Come Soon next year).

Pune Ganeshotsav - Ganesh Idol killing a demon
Bhausaheb Rangari Ganesh Idol – Killing a demon
Manache Paach Ganpati (Five most honoured Ganesh Idols)
Kasba Ganpati
Tambdi Jogeshwari
Guruji Talim
Tulshibaug
Kesari Wada Ganpati
Other Popular Ganesh Mandals / Idols
Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati
Akhil Mandai Ganpati Mandal
Bhausaheb Rangari Ganesh Mandal
Hatti Ganpati

1) Kasba Ganapati

Manacha Pahila - Kasba Ganpati (Gramdaivat)
Manacha Pahila – Kasba Ganpati (Gramdaivat)

Located in Kasba Peth area, Kasba Ganpati is the most honoured Sarvajanik Ganpati in Pune. It is also known as the Gramdaivat of Pune. It is believed that the Ganesh Idol was found near the house of Vinayak Thakar, which was close to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mother’s home. The temple was built by Shivaji Maharaj and this mother Jijabai Bhosale in the year 1639, and named it Kasba Ganpati. Every year, the welcoming rituals of Lord Ganesh begin with a new idol placed in a silver palkhi (palanquin) and carried by the devotees, on their shoulders. The immersion process on Anant Chaturdashi is also led by Kasba Ganpati.

Where: 159, Durvankur Society, Phadke Haud, Kasba Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411011

2) Tambdi Jogeshwari

Pune Ganeshotsav - Manacha Dusra Ganpati - Tambdi Jogeshwari
Manacha Dusra Ganpati – Tambdi Jogeshwari

This is the second most honoured Ganpati of Pune. The Tambdi Jogeshwari temple of Goddess Durga was built by Trimbak Bendre in 1545 AD. In 1636, Chhatrapati Shivaji and his mother ploughed the land in front of the temple and marked the new beginning of Pune.

Where: 33 (A), Budhwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411002

3) Guruji Talim

Manacha Tisra Ganpati - Guruji Talim
Manacha Tisra Ganpati – Guruji Talim

In the year 1887 the Ganpati of Guruji Talim was established by a Hindu and a Muslim family of Bhiku Shinde and Ustaad Nalban. This is the third most honoured Ganpati of Pune. This Ganeshotsav symbolises the Hindu-Muslim unity of Pune. It is believed that this mandal was established even before Tilak started the sarvajanik Ganeshotsav.

Where: 184, Laxmi Rd, Tulshibaug, Budhwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411002

4) Tulshibaug

Manacha Chautha Ganpati - TulshiBaug
Manacha Chautha Ganpati – TulshiBaug

Around 15 feet high, the idol of Lord Ganesh sits right in the middle of the famous Tulshibaug market of Pune. This is the first sarvajanik Ganeshotsav to make a fibreglass idol of Ganpati, and every year a new 15-feet tall idol is created. The sarvajanik Ganeshotsav celebrations were started here by Sardar Krishnaji Kashinath in 1893. This is the fourth most honoured Ganpati of Pune.

Where: Tulshibaug, Budhwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411002

5) Kesari Wada Ganpati

Pune Ganeshotsav - Manacha Pachva Ganpati - Kesari Wada
Manacha Pachva Ganpati – Kesari Wada

The Kesari Wada is considered as fifth most respected Ganesh Mandal of the city. Since its inception in 1893, the Kesari Trust’s Ganesh festival used to be organised at Vinchurkar Wada off Kumthekar Road which was the residence of Tilak. In 1905, the venue of the festival was shifted to Gaikwad Wada, presently known as the Kesari Wada.

Where: 577, N. C. Kelkar Rd., Narayan Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411030
Children Performing the traditional sport – Mallakhamb

Pune Ganeshotsav Highlight: Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati

Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati
Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati

If you come to Pune during the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi, your Pune darshan will be incomplete unless you visit and get the blessings of the most popular Dagdusheth Ganesh. Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati have their own rich and heart touching story.

Traditional Games at Display – Dandpatta

Dagdusheth Halwai, who was a famous sweet trader and lost his son during the outbreak of plague. Dagdusheth Halwai and his wife were very depressed. During these tough times, Guruji Shri Madhavnath Maharaj advised him to make two idols, one of Lord Datta Maharaj and another of Lord Ganesha, and asked him to worship them and to take care of the idols like he would take care of his son. It was way back in 1893 when Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak introduced the public celebration of Ganesh festival, and Dagdusheth Halwai came forward and started the festival.

Where: Ganpati Bhavan, 250, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Rd, Budhwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411002
Pune Ganeshtosav - Echoing devotion with every dhol tasha beat
Echoing devotion with every dhol tasha beat

Akhil Mandai Ganpati Mandal

Akhil Mandai Ganpati Mandal

The Akhil Mandai Ganpati Mandal idol is among the rare ones in the city and depicts Lord Ganesha with Goddess Sharada. The 125+ year-old idol was made under the guidance of the royal Patwardhan family of Sangli. The most remarkable fact about the Ganpati pandal is the idol is made up of eco-friendly materials. It is also well known for its extravagant and beautiful decor.

Where: Budhwar Peth, Mandai, Shukrawar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411002
Hatti Ganpati Ganesh Idol seated on an elephant fighting a tiger
Hatti Ganpati Ganesh Idol seated on an elephant fighting a tiger

There is a huge craze amongst the youth, especially college students about the Dhol Tasha Pathaks today, who are eager to learn and come up with new beats and compete against each other through pathaks.

Beautiful Rangoli to welcome Ganpati Bappa

Today, Pune boasts of 170 pathaks and 22,000 participants between the age group of seven year and 85 years, each coming from different walks of life.

Pathak playing Jhanj

In addition to the Dhol and tashas, you will also witness enticing performances by Lezim and Jhanj pathaks (groups). A few Ganpati Mandals have groups exhibiting the traditional games and arts like – Fugadi, Dandpatta, Mallakhamb, etc. You will also get glimpses of Maharashtrian culture and history. Thousands of enthusiastic Punekars turn up every year and flock the streets of Pune to bid a grand farewell to their beloved Ganesha. As many as 3000+ Sarvajanik Ganesh Idols were immersed last year in the immersion procession that lasted for more than 24 hours with the count increasing every year.

Pune Ganeshotsav - Shri Jilbya Maruti Mandal
Shri Jilbya Maruti Mandal

Here are some enthralling images of Ganesh Idols and attractive decorations from last years immersion procession. Hoping you too would be fascinated to experience it!

Lord Ganesha with the deities Vitthal-Rukmini
Lord Ganesha with the deities Vitthal-Rukmini
A replica of Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh Idol in Mumbai
A replica of Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh Idol in Mumbai
Orange Ganesha Idol riding on an elephant chariot
Orange Ganesha Idol riding on an elephant chariot
Pune Ganeshotsav - Ganesh Idol with Gods Krishna and Radha
Ganesh Idol with Gods Krishna and Radha
Ganpati Idol with a depiction of Goddess Tulja Bhavani of Tuljapur
Ganpati Idol with a depiction of Goddess Tulja Bhavani of Tuljapur
Sharada - Ganesh idols with a Shivlinga
Sharada – Ganesh idols with a Shivlinga
Ganesh Idol procession on a mouse - its Vehicle
Ganesh Idol procession on a mouse – its Vehicle

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