Today is Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival that is annually celebrated across the country to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha. This 10-day festival begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.

I was recollecting, today, our visit to Shree Siddhivinayak Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha, an iconic place of worship in Mumbai. The temple, located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, is more than 200 years old. The temple has a small mandap with the shrine for Siddhi Vinayak. Jagrata, Judhajit, and I visited the temple while returning home from our Goa trip in October 2018.

In Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha is the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most widely celebrated festivals of the country. Although it is unknown when (or how) Ganesh Chaturthi was first observed, the festival has been publicly celebrated in Pune since the era of, the founder of Maratha Empire, Shivaji Maharaj (1630–1680 CE). After the start of the British Raj, the Ganesh festival lost state patronage and became a private family celebration in Maharashtra until its revival by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.

The Legend

The tale tells that Goddess Parvati made baby Ganesha with the use of sandalwood paste and asked him to guard the entrance while she was in the bath. However, when Lord Shiva wanted to enter the premises, Ganesha stopped him from the same. This enraged Lord Shiva and he severed baby Ganesha’s head. When Goddess Parvati came to realize this fact, she was heartbroken. Lord Shiva promised her to bring baby Ganesha back to life. He went on to instruct his followers to search for the head of the first living creature that they notice so that they could replace it on Ganesha’s body. His followers (the Ganas) came back with the head of a baby elephant and that’s how Lord Ganesha came back to life. It was then when Lord Shiva named him the leader of the Ganas, Ganapati.

The Temple

The history of Shree Siddhi Vinayak Temple goes back to 1801 when a childless woman named Deubai Patil funded the temple so that the Lord may grant children to other childless women. Laxman Vithu Patil was the man behind the construction of the initial temple. The original structure of the Siddhivinayak Temple was a small 3.6 metre x 3.6 metre square brick structure with a dome-shaped brick shikhara.

The idol at Shree Siddhivinayak Temple is carved out of a single piece of black stone. It shows Lord Ganesha as chaturbhuj or having four hands, holding a garland of holy beads, a lotus, a small axe, and a plate of modak in each. Siddhi and Riddhi, the two consorts of Lord Ganesha, are placed on either side of the Ganapati idol. On the forehead of the idol, a third-eye is etched, which resembles that of Lord Shiva’s. One of the unique features of the main idol at the Shree Siddhivinayak Temple, is that the tilt of Lord Ganesha’s trunk is towards the right.

The wooden doors of the temple are intricately carved with the Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesha). The most spectacular of the features, however, is the gold plated inner roof over the idol of Siddhivinayak Ganapati which rests in the Gabhara, which is an octagonal shelter.

The present-day structure of the temple was designed by an architect named Sharad Athale. While the idol of the deity was kept intact, everything else about the temple was given a makeover. As a result, a uniquely designed six-storied structure replaced the old temple. This new structure is crowned with a gold-plated Kalash placed above the central dome. Apart from it, 37 other smaller gilded domes adorn the temple structure. Fine marble and pink granite were used to rebuild the temple building.

Generally, there’s a large number of pilgrims visiting the temple to pay their obeisance and people wait for hours in the queue. But, we were lucky. With the grace of Ganesha, we could easily get inside the temple and stayed quite a while to pray before the God.

After coming out, we had modak and snacks at the eateries in the temple complex. Modak is considered to be the favourite sweet of Ganesha. The sweet filling on the inside of a modak consists of freshly grated coconut and jaggery while the outer soft shell is made from rice flour mixed with khoya or maida flour.

A trip to Mumbai cannot be deemed complete without a visit to the revered Shree Siddhivinayak Temple. The magnificent temple of Shree Siddhivinayak is definitely worth a visit whether you are looking to seek the holy blessings of Lord Ganesha and to soak into the spirit of holiness.

May Lord Ganesha, the Vighnaharta, provide good health, eternal happiness, and total prosperity to all.

ॐ गं गणपतये नम:।

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