MUMBAI: Traditional prayers, chants of 'Ganpati Bappa Morya' and sweet offerings of 'laddoos' and 'modaks' by devotees marked the commencement of the Ganesh festival in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra on Monday.
The 10-day long festival is being held this year amid the looming clouds of economic slowdown and the devastation caused by floods after heavy rains in some parts of the state.
Several Ganesh mandals have contributed funds to help those affected by floods in the state, particularly in Kolhapur and Sangli districts.
As the festival began on Monday morning, idols of different shapes and sizes of the elephant-headed God, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and considered as a symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, were installed at the sarvanjik (community) mandals and at homes by devotees.
While many devotees brought the idols at home by late Sunday night, some were even seen bringing their favourite God amid beats of drums in the wee hours of Monday for the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.
People decorated the idols with flowers and garlands and prayed in the morning while offering modaks (dumplings made of rice flour and jaggery) and laddoos, considered as Lord Ganesh's favourite sweets.
On the first day of the festival, which was started by Lokmanya Tilak over 100 years ago, long queues were seen at Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai's most famous Ganpati mandal in Central Mumbai, with devotees eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of Lord Ganesh.
Celebrations were also witnessed in other parts of the state, including Pune, Nashik and Nagpur districts.
Around 7,703 public and 1.63 lakh domestic idols have been installed this year in Mumbai, an official earlier said.
The Indian Railways, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and private bus operators are running extra services in view of a substantial surge in the number of travellers to Konkan region for the festival.
Last week, police issued a general alert for Mumbai in view of the Ganpati festival.
Over 40,000 security personnel have been deployed in the city, an official said on Saturday.
More than 5,000 CCTVs will monitor activities in the city, he said, adding that the Lalbaugcha Raja mandal will have special security arrangements considering the massive crowd it attracts.
Police will coordinate with the city civic body, Coast Guard and Navy, and boats will also be on stand-by to tackle any untoward incident, like drowning, he added.
The festival will conclude with the visarjan, or immersion of the idols into a water body, on Anant Chaturdashi on September 12.