You Must See the Ganesh Celebrations of Sangli.
Amidst enchanting melodies and Vedic hymns and chants with three lakh devotees in attendance, a procession proceeding royally with the horse dance and elephants in tow, women drawing Rangoli running ahead of the procession for over two and half miles, a rath that is as resplendent as the Mahabalipuram rath – the Royal Ganesh Visarjan of Maharaja Vijaysingh Patwardhan of Sangli is a glorious spectacle to behold.
It’s something I, as the princess of Sangli, Bhagyashree Patwardhan-Dassani would like to share with you. Today is the first day of Ganesh sthapana….where the deity is welcomed home. With great pomp and glory amongst the vedic chants we do the puja. The Eco friendly Ganeshji made by artisans of the same family, down the generations, has a mold that was made about 200 years ago. The entire town gathers during the first puja to celebrate his coming.
he Ganeshottsav is an extravaganza of devotion, culture, art and music. Every evening, new music talent is given the opportunity to perform at the maha darbaar to seek blessings from Lord Ganesha. There are artists, singers, and performers that vie for the privilege to be able to perform in front of Ganeshji every evening of the 5 day celebrations. To encourage children, various competitions are held within the premises of the temple to promote their artistic endeavors. Finally on the 5th day, all the Sanglikars come to bid adieu to the loved revered deity and pay homage as they proceed to the Krishna nadi for the visarjan.
Last year, Ganeshottsav marked the 200th year of the Ganesh festival of Sangli and the first year of my son, Abhimanyu Raje doing the Ganeshsthapana. It began with the mahapuja amidst enchanting melodies, vedic hymns and chants with the crescendo of the nagara, the trumpets and finally the toph ki salaami. The Royal procession moved with the horse dance and elephant in tow, the lehjim in rhapsody, posse of Armed forces led the procession, followed by the constabulary, then by mounted cavalry, elephant, camels etc. The grandeur of this procession till today is considered second to none other one and is undoubtedly one with the longest tradition in Maharashtra.The attendance of the number of people surge on the day of the visarjan into lakhs as people all over Maharashtra flock to bid him adieu. Keeping in view to the noise pollution, no loudspeakers were used but the aura and festive drive was such that the drummers, the nagara players, the trumpeteers and all the people in the band that led the rath-yatra found a lurid energy that mounted higher and higher.
he tradition of Ganapati Utsav and its celebration in Maharashtra was started by the freedom fighter Lolmanya Tilak 170 years ago. The Sangli tradition was started about half a century before that. People from different communities or walks of life and professions were integrated in this festival by enjoining entire communities with this tradition in Sangli. For Example, The Burud Community had the honour of pulling the Rath, the Gawli Community was given the charge of handling road discipline, etc and then the Fisher-folk had the honour of doing the actual Visarjan.
I write today, to invite you all. Come enjoy and celebrate with me this 5 day home-coming of our beloved Ganeshji. Ganpati Bappa Morya