MUMBAI: Processions carrying idols of Lord Ganesh for immersion began winding their way towards rivers and lakes across Maharashtra Sunday morning, marking the culmination of the 11-day festival.
In big cities like Pune and Mumbai, processions carrying huge idols of the elephant-headed God on decorated trucks, accompanied by thousands of devotees and troupes of drummers, are expected to continue well past midnight.
While public Ganesh mandals prefer to take the idols for immersion to sea shores or rivers, families which install smaller idols are increasingly conducting 'viasarjan' at homes in buckets of water.
With a view to avoid pollution of natural water bodies, many civic bodies have also set up artificial ponds for immersion.
In Mumbai, the famous Lalbaughcha Raja Ganpati, which attracts lakhs of devotees during the festival, was among the early starters for immersion at the sea shore in Dadar.
The festival, which began on Ganesh Chaturthi on September 13, concludes Sunday on 'Anant Chaturdashi'.
Public celebration of Ganesh festival dates back over a century, when it was first encouraged by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in order to promote nationalist sentiment during the colonial rule.
In Mumbai, prime locations for immersion are Girgaum Chowpatty (beach), Juhu, Powai lake and Dadar Chowpatty.
In Pune, the top five Ganesh mandals set out for immersion in the morning.
In Nashik city of North Maharashtra, Ganesh mandals decided not to use hi-tech sound amplifying systems and 'gulal' powder (which is sprinkled during the procession) during the immersion.
The immersion procession of over 50 Ganesh mandals began in the morning from Wakadi Barav locality in Nashik.
It will culminate on the bank of the river Godavari.
Nashik police commissioner Ravinderkumar Singhal said the procession was expected to go on till midnight.
Besides, devotees in other districts of the state like Solapur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Amravati, and Nagpur also bid aideu to their favourite God.
The Bombay High Court had Friday refused to lift the ban imposed by the state government on the use of hi-tech sound-amplifying systems such as DJ and Dolby sound during Ganpati immersion and the coming Navratri festival.
This year, the Ganesh festival also became a public outreach opportunity for politicians, who are eyeing blessings of both Lord Ganesh and his devotees ahead of an election year.
As both the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra polls are due in 2019, political leaders in Mumbai, especially ticket- aspirants, made it a point to visit people in their constituencies who have installed Ganesh idols at home, apart from going to several pandals.