Ganesh as a deity
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    September' 1901.
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The Ganesh Festival At Keshavji Naik Chawls   (contd...)

A community festival cannot remain merely religious or intellectual in nature particularly when masses are involved. Some lighter moments by means of cultural and entertainment programs are a must when the festival spans over full ten days The SGS has given due attention to this aspect and a wide variety of such programs have been arranged for the benefit of the members, their families and others. The means and ideas of entertainment vary from time to time. Over the century, such programs have been organized by inviting eminent artists and professional groups for giving live performances. Melas, Dramas, Classical and Light Music concerts, Orchestra Performances have been some prominent types of such programs. On many occasions, members of the SGS and residents have also shown initiative in pooling up their resources and talents in organizing some in-house programs such as dramas. To promote the talents in younger generation, a wide variety of competitions have been held. They include subjects like Physical Exercise, Elocution, Essay Writing, Debate, and Games.

With the advent of time, the nature of social problems also undergoes changes. Social and religious organizations must be alert to take a note of new problems and endeavor to resolve them. The members of the SGS have been aware of their social responsibility and have tried to make conscious efforts for the betterment of the society. During last few years, some medical camps have been arranged for providing free medical check-up of the local people. Every year, Lokamanya Vyakhyanmala, which consists of a series of lectures on topics of general interest or social relevance, is organized for the benefit of all during Dec.-Jan. period. Another project that has been recently undertaken aims towards compilation of available old records towards Ganesh Festivals.

It is worth mentioning that the center of attraction of the annual festival has always been the idol of Lord Ganesha. The Moorti i.e. the idol of Ganesha for every annual festival is skillfully crafted in clay by a local sculptor-one Mr. More. The shape and posture of the idol is the same every year and the present sculptor belongs to the fifth generation of the family that has been entrusted this job. The idol is serenely beautiful and it brought to the festival site on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi in a solemn and traditional manner with the help of a Palkhi (i.e. a palanquin). The festival is carried out in a temporary pandal erected specially for the purpose on the road with the permission of Municipal Corporation. The tenth day i.e. the Ananta Chaturdashi marks the end of the festival and on this day the idol is carried in a procession in traditional manner for immersion in the sea. A huge crowd gathers to bid farewell to their beloved deity. Finally the idol is immersed in the sea with the chorus "Ganapati Bappa Moraya,Pudhachya Varshi Lavakar Ya". (meaning:' Tribute to you, Lord Ganesha! Please come back early the next year!') This final day is full of mixed and melancholy feelings and it invariably makes one introspect and also look forward for the next year's festival.

The captive beauty of the idol of Lord Ganesha at the SGS is beyond verbal description. It is an experience that one must personally enjoy! The influence of the festival at SGS is so powerful that many of the old residents of KNC, in spite of their staying at far off places, make it a point to visit the festival at least once and enjoy the cherished moments of their life.

Vijay Joshi

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