Started by Chhattrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, to dissemniate culture
and nationalism, the festival was given a new impetus by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar
Tilak to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy the British who had
banned public assemblies. The festival infused the Indians with a sense of
unity and revived their patriotic spirit.
To appreciate this occasion, one must go to Mumbai where preparations begin
months in advance. Images of Ganesha are installed within homes as well as in
places of assembly. Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration
and Ganesha is fervently worshipped for about 7-10 days. On the day of the
Chaturthi, the last of the days dedicated to the elephant-headed god, thousands
of processions converge on the beaches of Mumbai to immerse the holy idols in
the sea. This immersion is accompanied by drum beats, devotional songs and
Every year, the largest Ganesh idol is installed at Khairatabad in Hyderabad,
which is more than 30 ft tall.