The historical Maskarya Ganapati of the Bhonsale Dynasty will be installed on Tuesday. The Ganapati festival during the ‘Pitrupaksha’ (Shraddhapaksha) is celebrated only in Nagpur. It has a history of 235 years.
The second fortnight of the Bhadrapad month of the Hindu almanac is dedicated to performing ‘Shraddha’ for the departed souls. No religious functions, except ‘Shraddha’, are performed during this fortnight. Nagpur, however, is known to have been celebrating the Ganapati festival during this fortnight, which was started by Raje Khandoji Maharaj Bhosale alias Chimnabapu in 1787. This year the Ganapati idol will be installed on Tuesday (Sep 13).
Raje Khandoji Bhonsale was fighting a war in Bengal during the regular Ganesh festival celebrated in Bhosale Palace. He could not reach back to Nagpur during the festival and before he could come back the idol was immersed. However, as he returned victoriously and was in a mood to celebrate, he started the festival during the ‘Shraddhapaksha’. Initially, the Ganesh idol was decorated in a modern way. Even the idol with shirt and pants, and goggles were on the display during the festival. Entertainment programmes, usually associated with celebrations after victory in wars, were being organised. Ganesh’s idol with 16 hands is traditionally installed to indicate the power of the Bhonsale dynasty.
The celebration continues for over 200 years and is now led by Raje Mudhoji Bhonsale. The 21-feet Ganesh idol will be brought to the Bhonsale Palace in the Mahal area of old Nagpur. The idol is immersed on the tenth day.
This is the only celebration during the Shraddhapaksha, which has been accepted by the people.