Ganesh Chaturthi 2019: Devotees prepare 'Chhappan Bhog' for Ganpati at Khetwadi cha raja
Hindu mythology believes that Ganesha relished sweets and that is why devotees prepare the feast in order to please him and seek his blessings
Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai is that time of the year when Mumbaikars go pandal hopping in the city to catch a glimpse of Lord Ganesh while some devotees bring the Ganesh idols home to celebrate the festival. The organisers at the pandals and devotees get into the spirit of the festival and devote themselves to serving Lord Ganesh with daily aartis (prayers), 'prasads' and 'bhogs' (food offerings comprising an array of fruits and sweets) and other celebrations. Food is a major part of all our celebrations and during festivals, different kinds of food offerings are made to deities based on tradition and rituals.
One such ritual is the Chhappan Bhog which literally means 56 types of food that are offered to God which is a popular offering during Janmashtami and even during the Ganesh festival. In Hindu mythology, the significance of 'Chhappan Bhog' which is 56 types of dishes is that after Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger to protect villagers from torrential weather for seven days and seven nights, he skipped his eight meals a day and hence missed out on 56 meals. The villagers offered their gratitude to Krishna by offering him a grand 'bhog' comprising eight meals a day multiplied by seven days, hence 56.
In Khetwadi cha raja Ganpati Mandal which was established in 1959, every year a Chappan Bhog is prepared for Lord Ganesha. This year the Mandal is celebrating their 61st year of Ganesh and the 56 different types of dishes for the Chappan Bhog consists of sweets in a variety of different flavours, namkeen samosas, chaat, kachori chocolates and a special cake.
The highlight of the grand feast to Ganesha was the cake which was shaped in the way of letters written as 'Ganraj' in Hindi. And it goes without saying that the cake was the star attraction of the feast. Prakash Patel, a member of the organising committee said, "Every year, a food item is presented with the word 'Ganraj' written on it as offering to Khetwadichaganraj or Lord Ganesh of Khetwadi. While it was offered on a watermelon in 2017, this year the 'Ganraj' was the offering in form of a cake."
Every dish is made with a lot of love and devotion by the devotees and the people who are attached to the Mandal. While some are made at home in 'shuddh desi ghee', others are purchased from local sweet shops. After the aarti is performed with a lot of zeal, the bhog is presented to the Lord with chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya! After the food has been served to the Lord, it is distributed among the devotees and the cake is cut by the 'karyakartas' as a mark of celebration.
The Chhappan Bhog is usually made by the women of the mandal and preparations start a day in advance with discussion on the type and variety of dishes to be made. The responsibility does not fall on a single person but it is shared activity in which several devotees participate and help each other out.
Prakash Patel, says, "All this is nothing else but only our love for Khetwadi cha ganraj."
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