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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the popular religious festivals celebrated in Mumbai?

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A city that is generally wrapped up in its excess, metropolitanism and a rush to be somewhere, the religious festivals of Mumbai give it its much needed rootedness, ensuring that no matter where the city and its citizens soar they remain connected to its true heart and soul. Some of the religious festivals of Mumbai are:

  • Ganesh Chaturthi

    One of the more joyous festivals of Mumbai, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated even more spectacularly, if possible. Honouring Lord Ganesha’s birth, the festival spreads over a period of 10 days in September, from Bhadrapada Shudha Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi. If your visit to Mumbai coincides with this festival, you might just think that you are caught up in a tornado of energy, flowing from city native’s devotion and festivity in general. Splendidly decorated idols of Ganesha are installed at home and in Sarvajanik Ganesh Pandals. The real draw, however, is the Lalbaugcha Raja ido in Lalbaug, a locality lying in the approximate center of Mumbai. Several thousands of devotees, including film and media celebrities as well as prominent industrialists, flock to this pandal, to seek wishes and blessings. The idol is kept for public display for 11 days and thereafter it is immersed in the sea. If you manage to make your way there, do visit the Ganesha Galli (Ganesha lane) right next to the pandal where incredible replicas of ancient temples and palaces is created and put on display. Another lure of the festival is the tableaux, paintings and decorations that are put up in every pandal depicting the current, burning issues facing the society; a lyrical cultural narrative that tells a story of its own. Every part and suburb of Mumbai jumps in to make the festival a time when Mumbai is at its colorful best. You might wonder where most of Mumbai's stunning Ganesha idols come from? Each year, the journey of the beloved God's murti begins in Pen, a small town located 130 km south of Mumbai. With nearly 250 families involved in the traditional occupation of making Ganapati statues, they have moved from conventional clay to plaster of paris idols. For the more green hearted of you, the fact that so many idols are immersed in sea might be a source of concern. Worry not, as environmental concerns grow, clay is now being preferred over plaster of paris as well as creation of artificial ponds to observe the ritual of immersion without polluting the waters and environment.

  • Pateti

    Parsi last day of the closing year, heralding in the new year, Navroze, Pateti translates to repentance for sins, with a renewed promise to have good thoughts, use good words and perform right actions. Essentially entering the new year with a fresh start whilst acknowledging and atoning for the mistakes one has made in the past. Mornings begin with a visit to the Maneckji Seth Agiary where the sacred fire is always kept burning by the high priest. Promises are renewed, blessings are sought and prayers are offered to Ahura Mazda, symbolized by fire. Bone dry sandalwood offering is made, though not directly, but placed in the care of the celebrant priest who, using a pair of silver tongs, places the offering in the fire. The priest then uses a special ladle to proffer the holy ash to the devotee, who in turn daubs it on his or her forehead and eyelids, and may take some home for use after the Kushti ceremony. The day continues with festivities and people heading out to the various cultural and food festivals that are a part of the celebrations. This is the part where you might want to enter the picture, as you will get the opportunity to indulge in amazing, lip smacking Parsi cuisine at the Parsi food festival held on this day across Mumbai. Do keep in mind that since Pateti means repentance, wishing anyone Happy Pateti or Pateti Mubarak might not be a good idea; instead you could wish Happy New Year or Happy Navroze. In fact even for a person of the Parsi faith, the authority to wish Pateti Mubarak can be received only when he/she stands before the Holy Fire and recites the Patet Pashemani prayer, owning up to the various transgressions he/she has committed during the year. Having thus purged mind, body and soul, he/she acquires the right to wish another Pateti Mubarak.
  • Mount Mary’s Feast

    Mount Mary’s feast festival is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on the first Sunday after 8th September, the birthday of the Virgin Mary. A week long celebration, it is also known as the Bandra Fair and lakhs of devotees visit Mount Mary Church to celebrate and pay their tribute. You will find food stalls here selling all kinds of snacks, roasted grams, sweets and religious items. You will also come across kiosks selling candles in the shape of different body parts. The belief is that if the sick and suffering choose a candle or wax figure that corresponds to their ailment and light it in Church, their pious hope that Mother Mary will consider their appeals for help might be fulfilled. Many who come here are actually those praying to Blessed Virgin Mary for expressing their gratitude and attest to her miraculous powers.

In addition to the above festivals Christmas, Janmashtami, Diwali and Eid are also celebrated in Mumbai with a great deal of joy and abandon.

Soak yourself in the rich culture of Mumbai, as deep, wide and omnipresent as the Arabian sea that lines and engulfs its coast.

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