Mumbai, Sep 10 Come Saturday and millions of people will immerse themselves in Ganesh festival, a 10-day gala that sees the elephant-headed god being worshipped in Mumbai's nooks and corners and crores of rupees being splurged on preparations.
The festival starts with Ganesh Chaturthi on Saturday and will end with Anant Chaturdashi on September 22, when the Ganesha idols are immersed in water bodies.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai Police and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), allied agencies and NGOs have come together to organise the Ganesha festival on a grand scale this year.
Budgeting a whopping Rs.8 crore for festival preparations, the BMC has made all possible arrangements ranging from security, road diversions, immersion facilities, watchtowers, sanitation and so on.
No traffic diversions have been planned for the next three days. "We will monitor the situation and then divert the traffic in the required manner," a traffic official said.
Ganesh Chaturthi used to be more of a family festival. But during British colonial rule, Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak recognised the appeal of Lord Ganesha and transformed the festival into a large, well-organised event to mobilise the public. Tilak encouraged the installation of large idols of Ganesha in open public spaces.
And the revelry has not only continued to this day but has also become bigger in scale.
"An information booklet on various facilities during the festival and on the day of the immersion Sep 22 has been published to facilitate devotees," the official said.
As many as 16,000 policemen will be deployed for security arrangements during the 10-day festival.
"We have called for 3,000 policemen from the reserves to assist the already deployed 16,000 policemen. Sixteen companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) are also on duty," the traffic official said.
As many as 60 spots have been marked for the immersion of idols at the end of the festival and the BMC too has built 19 artificial ponds for the purpose.
"More than 200 lifeguards will be deployed at immersion spots along the sea. The navy has been alerted in case of need if emergencies arise," the municipal official said.
With a high number of idol immersions expected this year, arrangements have also been made to ensure safety and convenience of devotees as maximum immersions take place on the last day of the 10-day festival.
"Last year, around 1.87 lakh idols were immersed," the official said. The beaches at Girgaum, Juhu, Dadar and Marve see more number of devotees coming to immerse the idols.
"Facilities such as mobile toilets and searchlights are being put in place for devotees," the official said.