If it was Allah ho Akbar and Id Mubarak that could be heard on Saturday morning in Goa, by afternoon they were replaced with Morya re baba Morya re and Ganpati Bappa Morya along with bursting of firecrackers as household after household installed the Ganesh idol to begin venerating Lord Ganesha.
Idols were brought to the house either in vehicles or on foot with the ladies of the house waiting to receive it with their thaalis ready for the aarti.
Ganesh chaturti is the most important festival for hindus in Goa and the entire clan gathers at their ancestral house to worship Ganesh and participate in the celebrations. Many Goan Hindus working overseas arrange their vacations to enable them to be in Goa for this festival.
While in most houses, the idol is worshipped for one-and-a-half day, in quite a number of them the veneration is done for five days and in some for a longer period. However, the community veneration called the sarvajanik Ganesh celebration is usually for more than five days.
The Raikar family in Ponda taluka has practically a feast during the Ganesh as their family members numbering in hundreds descend upon the ancestral house from all the five continents of the world. Even as the ancient house remains, there are two other additions and a special kitchen and dining room constructed to cater to the requirements of this large brood.
A significant feature of Ganesh celebrations in Goa is the establishment of the idol at the police stations. This practice was started by the erstwhile Portuguese rulers as police personnel were not granted leave to celebrate the festival with their family since they were required to be on duty.
The practice continues today because the situation as far as the police are concerned, has not changed. In fact, police personnel are on their toes not only because of the spurt in housebreaking cases that occur during this period when thieves take advantage of the fact that residents have gone to their ancestral houses locking their abodes in towns, but also because of the terror threats that have become a common feature in more recent times.
Governor of Goa Dr. S S Sidhu, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar were amongst the host of politicians who greeted Goans on this festival.