A Regal Extravaganza
Amidst enchanting melodies and Vedic hymns and chants with two lakh devotees in attendance, a procession proceeding royally with the horse dance and elephants in tow, women drawing Rangoli running ahead of the procession for over two and half miles, a rath that is as resplendent as the Mahabalipuram rath – the Royal Ganesh Visarjan of Maharaja Vijaysingh Patwardhan of Sangli is a glorious spectacle to behold. The princess of Sangli, Bhagyashree Patwardhan-Dassani along with her husband and children comes to celebrate the Ganesh festival with her family as she does every year.
Shree Ganapati Panchayatan Sansthan, Shree Ganapati Mandir Sangli
The Panchayatan was established over 200 years ago by the Founder of the Princely State of Sangli, The First Chintamanrao who was born on 1775 and ruled till 1851.
The tradition of Ganapati Utsav and its celebration in Maharashtra was started by the freedom fighter Lolmanya Tilak 170 years ago. The Sangli tradition was started about 60 years earlier to that.
People from different communities or walks of life and professions were integrated in this festival by enjoining entire communities with this tradition in Sangli. For Example, The Burud Community had the honour of pulling the Rath, the Gawli Community was given the charge of handling road discipline, etc and then the Fisher-folk had the honour of doing the actual Visarjan.
The members of the Royal family mount the Rath and are seated just below the Idol of Lord Ganesha who is adorned in the ceremonious regalia and grandeur, with the priests swerving the Chawries and the traditional cloth fans decorated with intricate Zari-work.
A posse of Armed forces led the procession, followed by the constabulary, then by mounted cavalry, Elephants, camels etc. The grandeur of this procession till today is considered second to none other one and is undoubtedly one with the longest tradition in Maharashtra.
Vijaysingh raje Patwardhan the last Ruler of Sangli is a double graduate in Engineering & Law of the Mumbai University is involved in so many social activities and has himself taught German and Urdu and even music to literally thousands of citizens both young and old that he is immensely loved and admired by the citizenry. Hence they join these festivities in not thousands but in lakhs of numbers which really is the reason that makes this the most popular Gapapati procession in Maharashtra without question.
Bappa Morya Moments
This Ganeshottsav marked the 200th year of the Ganesh festival of the Royal family of Sangli and the first year of Abhimanyu Raje doing the Ganeshsthapana. It began with the mahapuja amidst enchanting melodies, vedic hymns and chants with the crescendo of the nagara, the trumpets and finally the toph ki salaami.
The Ganeshottsav is an extravaganza of devotion, culture, art and music. Every evening, new music talent is given the opportunity to perform at the maha darbaar to seek blessings from Lord Ganesha. To encourage children, various competitions are held within the premises of the temple to promote their artistic endeavours. Finally on the 5th day, all the Sanglikars come to a standstill to bid adieu to the loved revered deity and pay homage as they proceed to the Krishna nadi for the visarjan. The Royal procession moves with over two lakh devotees in attendance, with the horse dance and elephant in tow, the lehjim in rhapsody and the women drawing Rangoli ahead of the procession for over two and a half miles, in a rath that is as resplendent as the Mahabalipuram rath.
This year marked the first time that young Raje Abhimanyu led the visarjan procession after the last aarti done by the royal ladies, Rajmata Rohiniraje and Bhagyashree Raje.
About the author
Bhagyashree is best known for her spectacular Bollywood debut in Maine Pyaar Kiya opposite Salman Khan. However, very few know that she is an avid traveller. Having been around the world she has penned down few of her memoirs. She took a break from the silver screen to spend more time with her children who were growing up and recently returned with the television serial in 2014.