Mumbai: Devotees bid a grand farewell to their beloved Lord Ganesh as the immersion of idols began across Maharashtra on Thursday, marking the end of the 10-day-long mega festival.
The immersion processions of idols of various mandals in Mumbai, which witnesses maximum festive grandeur, and Pune, the state's cultural capital which hosts one of the best Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, were taken out amid great zeal and enthusiasm on the occasion of 'Anant Chaturdashi'.
Devotees performed one last puja and chanted "Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudachya Varshi Lavkar Ya" (Hail Lord Ganesh, come back fast next year), before carrying the idols of the elephant-headed God on flower-decked vehicles accompanied by troupes of drummers.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra, who along with his celebrates the festival every year at his official residence in Mumbai, also performed puja before proceeding for the immersion of their eco-friendly Ganesh idol.
In Mumbai, the immersion of idols was being done at 129 places, including Girgaum Chowpatty, Shivaji Park, Juhu, Aksa, Versova and Marve beaches of the Arabian Sea, and several lakes and artificial ponds set up for the purpose. Around 587 Ganesh idols were immersed till noon at these places, a civic official said.
The immersion processions of the prominent Ganpati mandals, including the Lalbaugcha Raja, Khetwadicha Ganraj and Ganesh Galli at Girgaum, will start later in the day, he said.
More than 50,000 police personnel have been deployed across the metropolis to ensure that Ganesh idol immersion processions pass off without any untoward incident, an official earlier said. Processions will also be continuously monitored by over 5,000 CCTV cameras, he said.
For better crowd management, the police have closed some of the old and dilapidated bridges and roads for traffic. "As we gear up to bid our favourite Lord Ganesha adieu, we urge you all to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful #GaneshVisarjan," the Mumbai police tweeted.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has urged all the Ganesh mandals to refrain from revelry or indulging in large gatherings on old and narrow roads and bridges.
"In view of incidents of bridge collapse in the city during last few years, we have decided to close the weak
bridges. At least 53 roads have been closed for traffic in Mumbai while one-way vehicular movement is being allowed on 56 roads for today," a senior police official said.
Besides, 18 roads have been closed for heavy vehicles while parking is not allowed at 99 places, he said.
The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, coordinating committee of all Ganesh mandals in the city, has promised to cooperate with the civic body's guidelines.
In Pune, devotees led the immersion processions of the city's five most prominent mandals - Kasba Ganpati, Tambadi Jogeswari mandal, Gurji Talim mandal, Tulshi Baug mandal and Kesariwada mandal - amid chants of 'Ganpati Bappa Morya' and beats of the traditional dhol-tasha.
After passing through various prominent areas, the idols would be immersed in the Mutha river in Pune. More than 8,000 personnel have been deployed to guard the immersion processions while 169 CCTV cameras and drones have also been installed to keep an eye on them, Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham earlier said.
In Nashik, devotees sprinkled 'gulal' (vermilion) on each other and danced to the beats of drums while carrying their idols for immersion. The main procession of the public Ganesh mandals will reach the Godavari river by late evening after passing through prominent roads and streets in the city.
The Nashik civic body has set up artificial ponds at different places for the immersion of idols.
Some social organisations have also put up stands near banks of the Godavari, urging devotees to hand over the idols to them for disposal in artificial ponds, instead of immersing them in the river.
Devotees in other parts of the state, including Thane, Navi Mumbai, Palghar, Solapur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Amravati and Nagpur, also bid farewell to their favourite God with traditional fervour.
The festival, started by Lokmanya Tilak over 100 years ago, was 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 contributed funds to help those affected by floods, particularly in Kolhapur and Sangli districts.