GANESH CHATURTHI It was Lokmanya Tilak who first initiated the public celebration of Lord Ganesha in 1892, in a bid to mobilize people to fight for swaraj. Considered by Hindus as God of wisdom, knowledge, and prosperity He is worshipped throughout India. But it is in Maharashtra that the deity, considered by all as the first among all gods is welcomed like an honoured guest. He is given pride of place and worshipped. No new venture, like an inauguration of a company, shop, laying the foundation of a building, weddings, entering a new home is deemed complete by Hindus without Ganeshji's puja. Ganesh Chaturthi reflects the cultural richness of the state of Maharashtra and is a major 10 day festival (between August and September) where thousands of varying size idols of Lord Ganesha are immersed on the last day by huge procession of worshippers shouting Ganpati Bapa Morya a farewell of sorts, in the Arabian sea. In Mumbai itself about 10,000 small and large pandals are erected. Legend Lord Ganesha is the elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvati The story goes that with Lord Shiva being away for a long time, his wife, Goddess Parvati created son Ganesha using her divine powers to protect herself.
When the lord returned Parvati was in her bath, and Ganesha had been instructed not to let anyone in . Angered by Ganesha's refusal to enter his own house, Lord Shiva chopped off his head. When Parvati came out of her bath, she was shocked and cried. To pacify her, he said that the head of Ganesha would be replaced by the first creature that he saw, which was an elephant His head was cut off and placed on Lord Ganesha and life was restored. To please his wife further he bestowed upon Ganesha the powers of a God and blessed him that no activity will begin without invoking his name and blessings.
GOKUL ASHTAMI Human pyramids are formed in an attempt to break an earthen pot strung 50 feet up, to get at the money/milk/fruits in it. Legend Lord Krishna as a child used to steal curds with the help of his friends by forming human pyramids, to get at the pot containing curds (Dahi Handis) Gokul Ashtami is in August.
NAVRATRI Literally means 9 nights. People celebrate Navratri by dancing the traditional Garba & Dandia dances. These lively and exciting dances full of ethnic gaity and fun have become popular and a favorite with the jet setting young crowd in Mumbai.. What started off as a ritual has become a commercialized event. Navratri is celebrated by all and it falls between September and October.
DUSSEHRA A huge effigy is made of Ravan, the evil king of Lanka and then burnt to symbolize the Lord Ram's victory. This falls in October.DIWALI The festival is dedicated to Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, and Rama. The city is lit up the entire week of this festival accompanying bursting of firecrackers. For the Hindus it is the beginning of a New Year. Many companies give bonuses & sweetmeats to their staff to create goodwill, and start their new accounting year in this period.. Diwali is celebrated in October-November.
HOLI The festival of color. A Hindu festival, where people quite literally put color on their friends, and relatives. Bhang an intoxicating drink is consumed and a bonfire is lit the night before. Holi a one day celebration held in March.
CHRISTMAS The birth of Christ. The festival is celebrated by all Shops and Departmental stores vie with each other for more business by decorating their stores and having Santa Claus giving free gifts to children.
The Muslims celebrate Ramzan and Id. The Parsis celebrate their Parsi New Year, between July and August.