It's that time of the year again, when the homes in Mumbai turn into temples.
As Lord Ganesha comes to visit his devotees, homes are scrubbed clean and a special, beautifully decorated area is created for the Lord.
The fragrance of incense fills the air, merging with the aroma of delicious home cooked meals and prasad.
The sound of soothing bhajans and the rise of voices in prayer have a purifying effect even as family and friends, dressed in their best, walk in to take Lord Ganesha's blessings and share in the festive joy.
Sonil Dedhia, Hitesh Harisinghani and Afsar Daytar bring you glimpses of the first day of Ganeshostav, Mumbai's favourite festival.
There is a festive atmosphere in the streets of Mumbai. Over the past night and through the day, many enthusiastic Mumbaikars -- as the citizens of the megapolis are called -- have spilled out into the city's streets. They are bringing home their favourite God, Lord Ganesh.
Cymbals and drums set up a foot-tapping beat that urges you to dance; there seems to be no other appropriate way to express your joy.
Accompanied by the bursting of crackers and the singing of favourite bhajans -- yes, it's also blasted it on loudspeakers (everything is forgiven these 10 days :)) -- the elephant-headed deity begins his journey on two wheelers, four wheelers, carts... many even carry Him home, balanced on their head or cradled lovingly in their arms.
Hundreds of Ganesha idols -- from tiny little home made ones to those who tower several stories tall -- are ceremonially welcomed into homes and pandals. The 11-day Ganesha festival has begun, and the zeal and fervour with which it is celebrated needs to seen to be experienced.
Roads and bylanes glitter with lights and decorations, and the city is resounds to the chant of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’.
A devotee prepares to take her Ganpati idol home.
The Chandwani family who live in Kandivali, a northern Mumbai suburb, have been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi for the last 32 years.
Every year, they come up with a unique idea to celebrate the festival.
Sanjiv Chandwani, who is an entrepreneur, says, "We have a different theme every year. This year, the theme is coir ropes. The idea struck my brother when he saw a pillar wrapped with coir ropes at a restaurant.”
The Chandwani family with their Ganpati idol at home.
Preparations for the festival begin much in advance at the Chandwani residence.
"Every small thing is well thought out and carefully planned. This year, we started two months ago and were still working on it until Thursday night (a day before the Ganesha idol came home),” smiles Sanjiv.
Watch the video below to see how they welcome Lord Ganesha and join them as they do their first aarti of the festival.
The Chandwani family gathers around to do an aarti.
The idol is always an eco-friendly one -- made out of clay.
The family believes in celebrating the festival in a distinctive manner.
They don't invite a priest to install the idol (staapana) or do the first aarti. Instead, they prefer to sing bhajans and use traditional Indian musical instruments.
The family prepares various delicacies as a part of the celebration. "It is usually a feast, as we prepare several dishes to serve the guests who visit our home," says Sanjiv.
The eco-friendly Ganpati idol at the Chandwani family residence.
Homemaker Veena Chandwani breaks some traditional myths related to the festival.
Myth: It is mandatory to bring home Lord Ganesha for three consecutive years.
Reality: It is not mandatory. When you welcome Lord Ganesha home for the first time, you take a vow about the number of years at that time.
Myth: There are certain muhurats (an auspicious period of the day) to welcome home the Lord.
Reality: The whole day is considered auspicious and you don’t need a muhurat.
Many idols are covered on their journey home. The covering cloth is removed before the first puja.
Myth: Looking at the moon on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi is considered an ill omen; many believe it will bring bad luck.
Reality: Looking at the moon does not signify a bad omen.
Myth: Only a priest must perform the first aarti.
Reality: It’s not necessary that a priest perform the first aarti. The family members can perform it themselves.
Myth: It is bad omen if a lit lamp blows off during the festival.
Reality:The lamp may simply go off because of a strong gust of wind or the breeze generated by a ceiling fan.