Ganeshotsav 2023: The Maharashtra town that does not do Ganpati Visarjan
Ganeshotsav 2023: Vipin Vijayan, who is covering the International Ganesh Festival, visits Ganpatipule to understand why this town in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri does not perform 'Visarjan' at the end of 10 days of rituals and festivities.
As the 10-day Ganeshotsav festivities draw to a close on Thursday, hundreds of devotees are set to take the streets to bid farewell to their favourite 'Bappa'. But not in Maharashtra's Ganpatipule. This small town, located in the Ratnagiri district, is famous for its scenic landscapes. However, another significant facet of this land of pristine beaches and lush greenery comes to the fore during Ganeshotsav.
The Ganpatipule Temple is the centre of activity. Considered as one of the holiest religious sites in the country, the devotion towards the temple and its deity are deeply linked to the residents of this coastal town. Unlike across Maharashtra where the idol of Ganpati is immersed after 10 days of prayers and celebration, the Lord in Ganpatipule offers a special 'darshan' to the devout.
Confused? Well, not really considering we live in a country so diverse where the landscapes, dialects, customs and rituals change every few milestones. So then what is the story of the Ganpati of Ganpatipule temple?
According to legend, the area had a village chief (Mukhiya in Hindi or Khot in Marathi) named Balambhatt Bhide during the Mughal era. Locals told this Asianet Newsable reporter, who visited the temple as part of the International Ganesh Festival 2023, "Once, a major tragedy befell him. He vowed to fast till the dire situation had not eased. So, underneath the mountain (where the temple now stands), there was a dense forest. He began his prayers here. At the same time, the cow at his home stopped giving milk. The caretaker tried to understand what the cow was doing with the milk it was producing. So one day, he followed the cow. He saw that the cow had been coming to the forest and releasing the milk upon a stone. He rushed to Bhide and told him about what he saw. Bhide at once cleared the area around the stone, and spotted the Ganpati sculpture. Since then, he started worshipping it, and a temple came into being."
No Ganpati Visarjan in Ganpatipule
Unlike people in the rest of Maharashtra, the residents of Ganpatipule do not bring home idols during Ganeshotsav. Instead, they offer prayers at the Ganpati temple. They see the idol of Ganesh in the temple as their own Ganpati. During the 10 days, people of Ganpatipule get the opportunity to touch the feet of the idol. Mind you, this opportunity is only provided to local residents. Also, the permission to touch the Lord's feet is only given during the Ganeshotsav period.
"I am the ninth generation of priests at this temple. This is a 'Swayambu Ganpati'. The entire mountain seen as representing Lord Ganesha. That is why when people do parikrama here, it is done around the entire temple. It is believed that whoever sincerely seeks something at the temple, their wishes often come true," said Abhijit Vinayak Ghanvatkar, the chief priest of the temple, said, adding that "Even though the temple came into existence 400-500 years ago, the existence of the prayer site finds mention in the Mudgala Purana."
The ancient text states that when the next to the sea is the presence of Ganpati, and when the time for darshan arrives, the Lord shall appear. For residents of Ganpatipule. that assurance seems enough.