In Pictures: India’s Spectacular Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

On the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol is taken on a procession through the streets, riding with joyous worshippers
On the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol is taken on a procession through the streets, riding with joyous worshippers | © res.cloudinary / WikiCommons

From artists spending days creating beautiful idols of Lord Ganesha to the procession through India’s busy streets, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is a visual spectacle held across the states of India.

Loved by over 40s

Held in August or September every year, Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha, is one of the most anticipated festivals in the Hindu calendar. Colourful statues of the deity, beautifully decorated pandals (temporary tents), vibrant celebrations and a final Holy immersion ceremony can be witnessed during this 10-day event.

Two to three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, skilled artisans begin creating the idols, or murtis, of Ganesha, making sure that the finest details are attended to. They only use environmentally-friendly materials, such as clay, paper-mâché and natural fibres. The idols are then painted and embellished as needed.

Statues being made in Anantapur
Artist working on a large Ganesh sculpture in Amravati, Maharashtra
Artists painting the idols of Ganesha, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
Artist attending to the finest details

As the festival approaches, numerous roadside stalls can be found selling colourful Ganesh idols of varying sizes and designs. The size of the idol ranges from a few inches to over 70 feet tall. The smaller ones are kept in homes or shops, while the larger ones are bought for community celebrations.

Small-size statues of Lord Ganesh are on sale at shops across the country
Ganesh statues ready for transportation

Before the Ganesh idol is brought home or installed in pandals, the place is cleaned and washed thoroughly. On the first day, at an auspicious hour, the idol is brought over and installed on an elaborately decorated pedestal. The priest performs a ritual, called Prana Pratishtha, to invoke the holy presence into the idol. Following that, an elaborate puja (prayer) known as Shodashopachara (16-step worship) is performed, which the public can attend and participate in.

During the puja, aarti (prayerful ceremony of light) and offerings are made to the idol in the form of coconut, jaggery, red hibiscus flowers, floral garlands, durva grass (Bermuda grass) and homemade sweets, such as 21 modaks (steamed dumplings filled with jaggery and grated coconut). At the end of the puja, sweets are distributed to the guests as prasad (religious offering). For the next 10 days, the same ritual of puja continues, typically in the morning and evening. For those celebrating the festival at home, the idol is kept for either one and a half, three, five, seven or 10 days.

Modaks (steamed dumpling filled with jaggery and grated coconut) are believed to be Ganesha’s favourite sweet
Ganpati installed in an elaborately decorated podium in Mumbai

Over the course of the event, people can witness cultural performances and dancing while songs dedicated to Lord Ganesha are played throughout the night. On the last day of the festival, the idols are taken down from the podium and carried on a procession through the streets accompanied by his elated devotees.

Ganesh statue being transported
Transporting the Ganesh statues in Hyderabad

Singing, dancing, drumming, splashing of colours and chants of Ganpati Bappa Moraya Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya (‘come back soon next year’) accompany the procession, which culminates at the sea or at other bodies of water – where, along with prayers, the idol is immersed into the water.

This ritual is called Ganesh Visarjan and it marks the deity’s send-off from its home with a promise of welcoming the God again the following year. The ritual has various meanings to devotees, for example, some believe it to be a purification of their conscience, while for others, it’s a dissolution of their obstacles or problems.

Singing and dancing accompany the procession
Ganesh Visarjan (Immersion) procession
Holy Immersion ceremony
Crowd watching the Immersion ceremony

In Mumbai, the statues are carried directly into the sea. But in non-coastal cities, they might be thrown into the water with a crane. Whatever the method, the statue will ultimately dissolve leaving only the debris of the celebrations behind.

Statue being carried into the water on Chaupati Beach in Mumbai
Statue being lifted by a crane before immersion
Debris, post-immersion
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.