Mumbaikars prepare to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi on Friday. Photo: NDTV

Faith and fervour hit an all-time high as Mumbai geared up for the 125th public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi on Friday, amid tightened security and calls from the authorities to keep the decibel levels low.

It was in 1892 that freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak called upon the people to turn the private-household festival into a public gala.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of the Elephant God Ganesh and the festivities in Mumbai run for 10 days.

During the festival, families install clay idols of Lord Ganesh at their homes, as he is said to be a harbinger of good fortune. In addition, hundreds of Ganesh pandals (a temporary worship structure) are lined up across the city, with people queuing up for hours to offer prayers to their favorite God.

A senior civic official told PTI, “Till last evening, 935 mandals were given permission by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), while applications for setting ups 911 more mandals were pending. Last year, 1,393 mandals were given permission.”

To tackle noise pollution, which is a common cause of problems during the festival, the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, the body of Ganpati mandals in Mumbai, appealed to the organizers to keep the noise down. Naresh Dahibhavkar, the samiti’s president, told PTI, “The mandals have been asked to follow the rules and keep the sound level low in the best possible way and cooperate with the police and the BMC.”

The police have tightened security and installed CCTV cameras in pandals. Bomb squads, dog squads and anti-terror units were deployed, and the holidays of all police personnel on the day of Ganesh Visarjan were cancelled.