This is the most important and biggest festival in Pune. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August - September). People buy Ganesh images to keep in their houses as a divine guest for five to ten days. The image is then taken out ceremoniously and immersed to the river, sea or well. It is called Visarjan. Keeping the idol after this day is considered inauspicious.
Puja can be simply performed with family members within the household or by a priest. Modak is special cuisine for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Aarti is performed morning and evening (dusk, or at the hour when artificial lamps are lighted in the house) a long as the Ganesh idol is at home.
Huge Ganesh idols are worshipped at nicely decorated pandals, also known as Dekhavas for 8 to 10 days. These Dekhavas are organized by the Mandals, worked collectively for the entire locality. Various Mandals shouting the slogans of Ganpati Bapa Morya take out huge processions during the first day and the day of immersion of the idols throughout the city. People from the city and nearby towns and districts, come in numbers to witness the celebrations of Ganesh festival celebrations. Huge money in terms of crores is spent on decorations of the pandals.
Pune festival is held between August and September during Ganesh Mahotsav. It is the biggest festival of Pune. The festival goes for ten days - starts with the installation of idols of Lord Ganesha on the first day to immersion of the Lord's idols on the tenth day.
Pune festival mainly emphasises on the celebration of art and culture, song and dance, custom and tradition. It started as a local event but now has succeeded to attract visitors from across India and abroad. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation joining hand with the Union government actively promotes the festival abroad as a major tourist attraction.
Classical dance, music recitals, film, drama festival, automobile rallies and traditional sports are held as a part of the festival. Maestros and stalwarts from all over India are invited to perform during the festival. The denizens of Pune and also the visitors from outside enjoy the event with fullest during the celebrations.
Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti
Celebrated as the birthday of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Maharashtra on 19th February, Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti happens to be a festival that is rejoiced with magnificence. Shivaji was born to Jijabai and Shahaji Bhonsle, on 19th February, 1627. He was named Shivaji after local Goddess Shivai. Being the creator of Marathas, he was influential in bringing together various Maratha chiefs of Mayal, Konkan and Desh regions. This hero was not only successful in bringing the people of Pune city together but united India as a nation too. Therefore, Shivaji Jayanti is celebrated on a royal note in Pune with several processions being taken out where people dress themselves up as Shivaji and his associates, various colourful events are organised to remember the achievements of this great Maratha ruler.
Bhaubeej is also known as Bhai Dooj in other parts of India. This festival in Pune and all over Maharashtra is celebrated, beginning with sisters drawing special square shape on the floor and making the brother sit inside it. He is then made to consume a bitter fruit called Karith. This custom comes from a mythological tale that Lord Krishna tasted this fruit before he went on for his mission to slay demon Narakasura. On Bhaubeej, sisters pray for their brother's long and prosperous life while performing tika ceremony. Brothers also bless their sisters and present them with Bhaubeej gifts. And after the rituals are completed, everyone gorges upon delicious Basundi Poori or Shrikhand Poori.
Other festivals celebrated in Pune include Diwali, Id, Gokul Ashtami, Banganga Festival, The Elephanta Festival, Ellora Festival, Dussehra, and Gudi Padwa. These festivals beautifully represent the culture and traditions followed by the diverse city of Pune as well as the whole of Maharashtra.