In September 2009, millions of Hindus flooded Mumbai’s streets to celebrate the annual festival, Ganesh Chaturthi.
The festival is in honour of the much-loved Lord Ganesh, known as the remover of the obstacles. For l0 days the elephant god is worshiped at the city’s many mandals, where statues of the idol reach up to 25 feet tall.
Believers hoping for their wishes to come true will make offerings of flowers, food, money, gold and silver in celebration of Ganesh’s birthday.
Worshipers also perform pujas (prayers), celebrate with music and dancing, and some even host elaborate dinners for the poor.
On the 11th day, the Ganesh statues are taken through the streets, accompanied by millions of devotees chanting ‘Ganaptahi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukarva’ (O father Ganesh, come again early next year).
Drums beat wildly, fireworks fill the air and dancing takes over the city’s roads, as a colourful farewell to Ganesh.
The god is then taken to river or sea for the final day of immersion.
The ritual of immersion has recently been criticised for being environmentally damaging, with giant Plaster of Paris statues polluting the city’s beaches and washing up on shores for weeks to come.
However, the immersion is important for the faithful, who believe the sea symbolises the final goodbye to Ganesh, with the water washing away the misfortune of his followers.