While I was in Mumbai, the annual celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi took place. Although Ganapti is celebrated all over India, I was told that it is especially fervent in Mumbai. This event worships the Hindu deity Ganesha, one of the best-known among Indian people. Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles, the patron or arts and sciences, the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is always honored at the start of rituals and ceremonies.
Celebrated over the course of 11 days, it equals the reverence of Christmas with every night a party, alternating between private nights with family and public. One of Mumbai’s major practices is for families to take their home idol of Ganesha to Girguam Chowpatty (or Chowpatty Seaface), the only sandy beach along Marine Drive on the city’s shore of the Arabian Sea. Here they “purify” their personal Ganesha by a good wash in the sea and then some ritual prayers and chants on the beach. Towards the end of the festival, more than a million people will arrive at Chowpatty with their statues each night.