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16 hours in line for one minute with Ganesha

Chetna Yerunkar undertook the prolonged pilgrimage on foot, to seek blessings from Lord Ganesha at Lalbaugcha Raja


No pain, no gain. These are the words that gave me strength and perseverance in course of my 16-hour-long wait in line for a glimpse of Ganpati at Lalbaugcha Raja.

I gritted my teeth through the protracted ordeal, which began at 2 pm on Saturday, and finally culminated at 6 am yesterday.

2 pm (Saturday)

3.30 PM

7.30 PM

6 am (Sunday)

(Anti-clockwise) Chetna starts her pilgrimage to seek Ganesha's blessings, but first she has to make her way through security. Slowly, but surely, Chetna progresses in the serpentine queue ensuring that she takes in all the sights that are there to offer. Chetna fights through crowds and nudging elbows edging closer to the finish line. After waiting for 16 hours, Chetna finally is up close and personal with Lord Ganesha and seeks his blessings. Pics/datta Kumbhar


2 pm (Saturday)
With what seemed to be inextinguishable reserves of energy, I queued up at Abhudya Nagar, joining the Navasachi line, earmarked for devotees who seek Ganpati's blessings to obtain specific goals.

The authorities had thoughtfully lined the queue with chairs, so devotees could rest their aching feet as they waited in a line that failed to move for hours at a stretch.

3.30 pm

We finally caught sight of a pandal. Six serpentine queues issued from it, three reaching towards it and three departing from it.

Our ennui was enlivened by the entertaining performances of songs and dances by a group of 50 college students.

Exhorting them was Bhayander resident Vijaya Karekar.

Upon accosting her and asking her if she was their teacher, she surprised me, saying, "I don't know any of them. I saw that they were enjoying themselves, and joined in."

7.30 pm
Overpowering hunger pangs took control of me, and my throat was parched. But much to my dismay, there were no arrangements for either food or water.

I had to inch my way forward, past 45 segregated sections. Volunteers were serving poha in the twelfth row, and after an hour-long wait, I finally reached the stall. The simple snack that they served tasted like ambrosia.

I met a Gujarati couple, who were enduring the ordeal simply so they could thank the lord for granting them their prayers for domestic bliss and professional success. They offered tea, which I gladly accepted.

2.30 am
Holy land was in sight, as we were separated from the pandal by only ten more divisions and a bridge. Even more miraculously, I found a clean toilet. My feet aching and my throat parched, I persevered, with the end in sight.

6 am (Sunday)
By now, exhausted children who had accompanied their parents were weeping copiously. Standard III boy Aditya Pai however appeared to be indefatigable. He said, "I came here to see Lord Ganpati, and I wont sleep a wink until I see him. I am a strong boy."

The group, which had earlier spread cheer with its songs, had fallen silent. At precisely 6 pm, Ganpati appeared before me, and I took a lasting glimpse.

Rajendra Lanjwal, treasurer of the Mandal, later explained, "You received darshan after the protracted wait because we had shut the VIP entry. The distance from Kalachowki to the Lord's feet is a good 12 km."

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