Maharashtra Mandal’s Ganesh Utsav 2022
The Maharashtra Mandal of Atlanta (MMA) has been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi for over 30 years now. This year, the celebration, held at Gokuldham Haveli in Buford, GA, was spread across two days. On September 9, Ganpati Pranpratishtha was presided over by a female priestess Amruta Karmarkar for the first time ever, creating a new milestone in the Mandal’s history.
[Left] Folk dances were part of the celebrations at the Ganesh Utsav organized by MMA.
On September 10, Nilesh Likhite and his registration team welcomed the visitors with homemade pedhas graciously donated by Dr. Atul Laddu and Jayshree Laddu. Visitors were ushered towards a beautiful visual of elaborate floral decorations created by Pranjali Likhite and the team. Apart from the traditional clay statues of the elephant-headed Lord, there was a special statue prepared by Varsha Patil made out of chocolate.
[Right] The beautiful Ganpati idol graced Ganesh Utsav 2022.
As Ganpati is known as Kalapati, the Lord of all art forms, the MMA committee decided to include as many art forms as possible in the celebration. There were mesmerizing paintings by various artists of Atlanta. With nearly 200 participants, the cultural program was a delightful mix of all performing arts. Dancers performed classical and semi-classical style dances, group dances, and folk dances as well. Devotional songs dedicated to Ganesha, Vitthal, and Krishna were performed.
The event also featured two independent productions. A children’s play titled Khara Mitra highlighted the importance of books. It included eight children who are learning Marathi at Atlanta Marathi Shala, an autonomous body under the MMA umbrella.
[Left] The Utsav showcased the work of local artists celebrating Bappa.
The second production was a musical that followed the arc of a woman’s life, starting at birth and circling back to the birth of her granddaughter. Aptly titled Stree Janma: Ek Avartan (Woman’s Circle of Life), it featured over 30 women and showcased various long-lost songs and Marathi traditions like Bhondla and Mangalagaur.
Apart from that, there were storytellers, narrations, and solo performances. Snehal Sangole and Rahul Jog were emcees for the event.
[Right] Ganpati being lovingly carried by MMA members.
Another highlight was the traditional Lezim dance. Over 80 participants performed in two groups—one below 12 years of age, and another above the age of 12. The Lezim team was choreographed and mentored by Sanjay Gadre and Prashant Garud. This was followed by a very impactful and popular Dhol Tasha Vadan, led by Amruta Kale. The Dhol Tasha group, led by Milind Bavadekar, was an 11-member strong team.
The crowd then joined in for an impromptu dance to the beats of Dhol Tasha, which slowly morphed into the final procession of the beloved Lord Ganesha. Amidst light showers, the procession meandered through the lawns of the Gokuldham temple to arrive at the final Visarjan place. The chocolate Ganpati was immersed in the warm milk and chocolate milk was distributed as prasaad to all the devotees.
This event was conceptualized and managed by Sushil Raje and Pranjali Likhite. Helmed by the current president of Maharashtra Mandal of Atlanta, Pushkar Deshpande who, along with his team, ensured that all the 1200+ devotees of Bappa were well-fed with sumptuous and saatvik food. The highlight was, of course, the traditional Ukadiche Modak—the steamed sweet coconut dumplings, a favorite of Lord Ganesha.
[Left] Ganesh Utsav also showcased two independent productions.
Managing a crowd of over 1200 people, nearly 400 families, and a beloved event spread out over two days, was indeed a feat. The innumerable volunteers of the Mandal made this entire event possible.
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