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A Royal Physician and Freedom Fighter & The Story Behind India’s Oldest Ganeshotsav

A Royal Physician and Freedom Fighter & The Story Behind India’s Oldest Ganeshotsav

A royal physician and freedom fighter, Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari installed a unique idol of Lord Ganesha in India's first public ‘Ganeshotsav’ to send the British a strong message of India's unity.

It is that time of the year when houses across the country are adorned with flowers and festive lights to welcome ‘Ganapati Bappa’. But do you know the origin story of how this iconic festival came into existence?

To understand this, we need to go back about 131 years. During a time when India was actively resisting British colonial rule and striving for independence, Krishnajipant Khasgiwale used the festival to demonstrate India’s unity.

In 1892, Pune resident Krishnajipant visited the Maratha-ruled Gwalior. There, he witnessed the traditional public celebration and brought it to the attention of his friends — Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari and Balasaheb Natu — back home in Pune.

Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari, also a famous royal physician and a freedom fighter, saw potential in this festival to unite countrymen. So he installed the first saarvajanik or public Ganesha idol in his home or wada located in an area called Shalukar Bol.

The idol was unique as it depicted the deity killing a demon. Made of wood and bran, the imagery was far from the usual calm and composed demeanour of Lord Ganesh — this was symbolic of India as a nation fighting for its freedom against the colonialists.

The move gained more attention when freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak praised his efforts in an article in the iconic newspaper Kesari. Over a century later, the original idol made of paper pulp is still worshipped at Bhausaheb Rangari’s wada.

Did you find the story interesting? Watch this short video to find out more: 

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(Edited by Pranita Bhat)

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