Ganesh Chaturthi: Mandal Hopping in Pune – I

Read the latest version of this blog post here.

Wish comes true!

Destiny has a way with making wishes come true unexpectedly. For the past several years, I’ve been trying to plan a trip to Pune during Ganesh Chaturthi. I earnestly wanted my husband to experience the vibrant festivities first-hand. Somehow, the plans never worked. I almost forgot about this wish.

And then, out of the blue, with less than a week’s notice, we had to visit Mumbai (and hence, an opportunity to visit Pune) right in the middle of the 10-day long festival. Well, needless to say, I was super excited that hubby dearest and Junior would join in and say ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’!!!

Our dear Lord Ganesha

Ganpati Bappa Morya, Ganesh Festival, Pune

In the state of Maharashtra, Ganesha, the much revered and loved deity, is the center of all attention during the 10-day long festivities that start with Ganesh Chaturthi and end with Anant Chaturdashi. A host of “Ganesh mandals” (organizations that host Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations) leave no stone unturned in ensuring a grand celebration: music (often jarring , sometimes melodious), idols of all sizes, innovative themes, keenly contested competitions. Ever since I was a couple of years old, “mandal-hopping” with my family was an annual affair. We’d choose one area of the city every day and head out to explore the themes and idols. As a little girl, perched on Dad’s shoulders to get a better view, I would soak in the vibrance and enthusiasm at every halt.

In my favorite city

A comfortable ride in a Shivneri Volvo bus brought us from Mumbai to Pune. We checked-in to Hotel Shreyas, located in the bustling Deccan area, marking the beginning of a very comfortable stay.

Ganesha, Hotel Shreyas, Pune

Mandal Hopping in the Deccan area

A pleasant morning walk in the Deccan area, a delicious Maharashtrian lunch at Shreyas, and a short afternoon siesta built up our enthusiasm for the first evening of “mandal hopping”.

A walk to the Deccan-Karve Road corner, followed by long strolls along Fergusson College (FC) Road and Jangli Maharaj (JM) Road left us completely mesmerized. With themes ranging from tales of Shivaji Maharaj and stories from mythology (Ramayana) to the unique depiction of Noddy and his friends in Toyland, artistic and  creative abilities were in the forefront of all the attractions.

Ganesha (across the street), Ganesh Festival, Pune

Sant Tukaram and Krishna, Ganesh Festival, Pune

Scene from Ramayana(Indrajith and Garuda), Ganesh Festival, Pune

Scene from the Ramayana, Ganesh Festival, Pune

Noddy in Toyland, Ganesh Festival, Pune

Lord Krishna dancing, Ganesh Festival, Pune

Lord Ganesha, Ganesh Festival, Pune

It was a pleasant surprise that the music playing at most of the locations was toned down, many decibels lower than what I was expecting. I wonder if new regulations have caused this much-desired change.

Junior, an ardent mythology fan, could identify most of the characters and stories depicted at the various locations. Of course, the exhibit of Noddy and his car left the biggest lasting impression on him :). He loved the evening tour and so did we.

We looked forward to part two of “mandal-hopping” in Pune :)!