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Pune's Dagedu Sheth Halwai dresses up for Ganeshotsva

At the famous Dagedu Sheth Halwai in Pune, preparations are on in fullswing for Ganeshotsva.

The main attraction this year will be a replica of the Laxmi Vilas palace (of Baroda) which is being constructed at a cost of Rs 2 million. Maharaja Ranjit Sinh of Baroda himself will be present at the grand inauguration. The other dignitaries expected include Lata Mangheshkar and the chief ministers of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The mammoth replicated palace will be 101 feet long and 60 ft tall. It will have two edifices -- a 54 ft one at the back and a smaller, 16-ft one at the front.

Inside, the replica will have a meeting mandap, 80 ft long, and would be complete with fine artwork, 22 pillars and 17 kalash, all made of angled mirrors.

Every year, thousands throng to Dagadu Sheth Halwai to seek the blessings of Ganapati. Dagadu Sheth was once a sweetmeat vendor, who prospered after establishing the Halwai Ganapati Trust, a stone's throw away from the historical Shanirwada Fort.

The Ganeshotsva was popularised in Pune by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak to fight a British order which barred public meetings. Under the religious guise, he successfully organised the Indian masses to propagate the ideas of freedom, liberty and equality.

Compiled by Prasanna D Zore from the Marathi media

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