This is Mumbai’s biggest festival. Ganesh Chaturthi (also called Vinayaka Chaturthi) falls in August or September. It is celebrated in honor of Ganesh, the elephant headed god. This is a 10-day festival.
During this festival, clay (and sometimes plaster of Paris) idols of Ganesh are brought home and worshipped. There will be artis in the mornings and evenings. Not only Maharashtrians, people from other states also bring idols to their homes. Families will typically keep the idol for one and half days and then take it for immersion in a lake, river or pond. While the idol is being taken for immersion, devotees will sing bhajans and dance on the streets. This will be accompanied by drum beats. Some will keep the idol for five days. On those days of immersion, you can expect traffic jams all over Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
The idols are also installed in public pandals (temporary shrines) all over the city. These idols can be quite big and the celebration lasts 10 days. Artis are performed in the mornings and evenings. Some Ganesh pandals in Mumbai and thane attract tens of thousands of devotees. The idols will be taken for immersion on the 10th day. The whole of Mumbai participates in this festival. Many people will bring the idol home. Those who don’t worship the idol at home will participate in the celebrations organized by the pandals or their neighbors or relatives.
Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated all over India, but the way it is celebrated in Mumbai and Maharashtra is different. Here everything about this festival is grand. The idols are huge. There are pandals all over Mumbai. Ganesh Chathurthi is the biggest festival in Maharashtra. Navratri and Diwali are the two other major festivals in this state. Mumbai is its noisiest and liveliest during these ten days. While the mornings can be relatively peaceful, you won’t get even a moment of quietude in the afternoons as thousands of idols are taken for immersion.
If you love noise, the crowds and the sight of men and women dancing in the streets, this is the time to visit Mumbai. But if you hate noise, it makes sense to stay away from the city during these days. The drum beats can be deafening and you will hear them well-past midnight. The whole of Mumbai is out on the streets on the days of immersion.