Monday, September 1, 2014

Swayumbhu Siddhivinayak Ganesh Temple - Vazira Naka, Borivli

I remember almost exactly as it had happened.

He had petite eyes, much smaller than mine, one that were filled with enormous kindness so as to instantly capture my attention. A little mantra, given by my grandma, was all I had, to seek His attention for some more time. He obliged, His gaze never wavering, not even for a moment. A steel railing separated us, preventing me from getting any closer but I was happy that I could still touch the impressions of His feet. Recharged with a surge of positivity, I was just about to move away when the presiding pandit (priest) pressed a vermilion mark onto my forehead and immediately, I could sense His benevolence some more.

It is His way of acknowledging my prayers – I had quipped and sensed a joy that was unique only to myself…

This is the story of my first visit when we had recently moved to our new residence and I had discovered that Swayumbhu Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple is just a stone’s throw away from our place. It’s been around 15 years now, and He has been a trusted confidante since then. A confidante, someone who’s known the deepest of my fears and the darkest of my secrets and yet, has accepted and loved me the way I am. He is none other than my friend Ganesha and the place I am going to take you today is this same place I am talking about – the Swayumbhu Siddhivinayak Ganesh Devasthan in Vazira Naka, Mumbai.


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The Swayumbhu Siddhivinayak Ganesha Devasthan in Borivli, Mumbai.

Swayambhu Siddhivinayak Ganesh Devasthan literally translated as self manifested divine abode of Lord Ganesha is one of the most famous temples and a key landmark of Vazira Naka - a neighbourhood in the western suburbs of Borivli. I feel fortunate to be living close by in the vicinity as it has helped me visit the temple on numerous occasions, almost daily actually, including the important days like Angarki Chaturthi and Ganesh Jayanti. Of course, almost all the Ganesh Festival posts that you may have witnessed through this diary also belong to this very place.

Entrance gate of Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
The way in: Swayumbhu Ganesh Devasthan, Borivli

Vazira Gaothan - Village feel

There are 2 different lanes that can take you to the temple, both of them located off the main road but I always take the first one that is near to the Borivli station. The moment you step in, you feel like stepping in a village - narrow lanes, intermittently concrete, trees jutting out of them, small houses, a fish tank seller (a kids delight!) somewhere in between, flower kiosks at regular intervals selling fresh garlands, durva (green grass), coconuts, prasad of modaks as offering to the Lord and a few more temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Sai Samarth strewn in between – just some of the elements which put this little journey to the temple in a bracket of timelessness and old world charm.

On the way to Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Lane leading to the temple

The time-warp factor is something that just can’t be missed and so also the accompanying peace. Perhaps this antiquity stems from the past of the temple that finds its roots in the adjoining Koli village where this temple rock with the Swayumbhu image of the Lord was excavated by the locals years back.

Lord Shiv Temple at Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Lord Shiva Temple along the way

How many years? No one knows… but it’s the indomitable faith and belief passed by the devotees since then that makes this temple truly ageless.

On the way to Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Flower vendors along the way
As you make your way along the lane, you hear the friendly flower sellers softly call out to you with a smile - ‘Kai deu, Tai’ which in Marathi means ‘Will you like to buy something, sister?’ But their tones are so hushed and humble that you will never find them pushy.

Durva garland at Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
What will you buy? ... durva, flower garlands, coconuts, modaks...

At the Siddhivinayak temple

A basic security check at the gate lets you in, into a wide courtyard and it’s here that the main temple building comes in view: a humble house with the auspicious Hindu symbol of ‘Aum’ and a red flag perched at its roof, an ancient Vad tree doubling up as a canopy.

Way to Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Main gate of Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli

For me, it’s a home away from home.

Tuesdays are more crowded than the rest of the days and if you are looking to visit the temple on Angarki Chaturthi – expect a heavy throng. True even otherwise but especially on days like these, the management trust and the volunteers do a great job of regulating the crowds by organizing separate queues – one that goes inside the sanctum and another that lets you have His glimpse from the outside. No points for guessing – the latter queue (I confess - my favorite too most of the time!) lets you meet Him in a jiffy!


Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple compound, Vazira Naka in Borivli
The temple compound on a weekday (not a Tuesday!)

Peace reigns outside as well as inside the temple. The temple houses 2 sanctums and is minimal in decoration devoid of any images or such similar ornamentations.

Swayumbhu Siddhivinayak Ganesh Rock

The main sanctum houses the massive rock carving on which we can see the elephant trunk - the image of Lord Ganesha. Vermilion pasted all over his body, He wears a gleaming mukut (crown) with a heap of colorful flowers and coconuts spread all across His feet. Also scattered are marriage cards and a few papers which have perhaps been forwarded for His approval and supervision.


Deity of Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Pay your respects to the deity of Shri Swayumbhu Lord Ganesha

For they know – in case of any discrepancies and anomalies, He shall correct them all.

After the prayers, devotees move out of the sanctum for circumambulation and this is where they can touch the rock for the very first time. Some can be seen reciting His mantras while some others are introspecting, in silence. I must tell you this; the feeling here, is ineffably divine.

Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple Mantra, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Before we leave the temple, let's chant His mantra

Here, rock outcroppings make themselves known and faint history appears like rabbit out of a hat. Rolling my fingers on them is a soft pleasure, filling with a unique sensation to the core. It’s not a rock, it’s the Lord Himself. Touch your forehead on the back rock in the temple and a mystical purity envelopes you in its folds. It's a blessing. The entire rock has this indomitable energy and you got to touch it to understand what I am saying.

Lord Hanuman and Goddess Sheetla Mata


Deity of Sheetla Mata at Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Meet Sheetla Mata... sitting next to Her son - Shri Ganesha.
Inside the temple, in the main sanctum next to Lord Ganesh, sits His mother, Goddess Sheetla Mata or Gauri Mata and devotees take Her blessings before moving to meet Lord Ganesha. The temple also houses another sanctum with Lord Hanuman as the presiding deity - His arms outstretched towards the sky as if calling out glory to His Master, Lord Ram.

Swans

Adorable swans at Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
People friendly and  peace loving, their preening never fails to catch attention

At the back of the temple is a carpet of nature. Flowers bloom, birds chirp in melody and swans laze around in the garden. Spotted are devotees, feeding the swans with things like puffed rice and rotis (Indian bread) and the swans do relish them with great panache. Children especially are very fond of them.

Bhabhuti or the sacred ash

Before moving out of the temple, apply the bhabhuti that is placed in a bowl and take some time out for yourself. Sit in the temple hall and close your eyes and let the peace sink in.

The bhabhuti is not just any ordinary ash but reminds us to let go of our negativity, burn it - oh yes! it's possible and convert it into ash.

Even if there is chatter around, I have felt a sense of serenity which seems to be lingering around within the environs. No wonder many people come here to meditate and chant regularly during different times of the day.

Sacred Peepal tree / Tulsi tree in courtyard

Outside, in the courtyard is a massive age old sacred peepal tree where people light diyas (lamps) and incense sticks, offer water and flowers. Just besides the peepal tree is the Tulsi plant which is a major point of reverence as well.

Alji Dev Temple and the Ganesh Temple Pond

Sai Baba Temple of Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Sai Baba temple further going inside a lane through the temple

A few steps away from the main temple is Alji Dev Temple dedicated to Sai Baba of Shirdi which sees lesser footfall of faithful than the main temple, similar degree of peace. The way to this temple passes through a pond which is well looked after the management and cleaned on a regular basis.


Lake of Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
Stop by the lake... 
Turtles in the lake of Shri Swayumbhu Siddhivinayaka Ganesh Temple, Vazira Naka in Borivli
... can you spot the turtles there?

The pond becomes a hub of activity for 11 days of Ganesh Chaturthi festival when devotes from far and wide descend to immerse their beloved God in the water and bid Him farewell. At other times, it settles as a humble dwelling for small fishes and tortoises.

Final thoughts

The place hasn't changed much since my first visit but the bond I have come to share over the years probably has. It's still that down to earth, devoid of any airs, peaceful place I had been to, year’s back, with just that extra bit of warmth thrown in that it reserves exclusively for me.

Exclusively for me? Hah! Now may be, just may be, that's a wooly thought borne out of my sensitivity! Whatever, I can only pray that whatever is my equation… always remains that way.

Other information from the temple:

- Temple Timings: 5.30 AM to 10.30 PM (Closes for 15 minutes during lunch and dinner times)
- Arti timings: 5:30 AM and 6.45 PM
- Photography is prohibited inside the main temple.
- The temple does not accept donations of jewelry.
- The temple is not overloaded with pictures of any other Gods or Goddesses so that the devotee can focus His attention on Lord Ganesha.
- Attention is given to maintain cleanliness and peace of the temple.
- There is an ambulance run by the management along with medical camps for the poor. Also, it's commendable to see the attempts for raising social awareness through 'billboards with a message' during major festive occasions.

How to reach Swayumbhu Shri Siddhivinayak Ganesh Temple in Vazira, Borivli, Mumbai:

The Ganesh temple is situated at Vazira Naka near Don Bosco School, at a distance of 3 km from the Borivli (W) station and is a major landmark in itself. The easiest way to reach the Borivli station is by a local train. After getting down at the Borivli station, head towards the western side, after which, you can either walk or take a rickshaw or a bus (nos. 277, 246, 294) which are easily available and cost basic fares. Walking should take around 30 minutes while it's a mere 10-15 minute ride in a vehicle depending on the traffic.

Related video on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7nZALqowH8



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25 comments:

  1. How lovely that you feel this a home from home. I think it wonderful that you have found such a place. If only everyone was so lucky as to have found theirs.

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  2. It is hard to imagine in the busy suburb of Borivil such a serene and divine temple is present. Very good description of your experience as a child and also what to expect today. I am glad that not just the temple but also the lake is well maintained...

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  3. i could feel as if i visited al these places.., lovely writeup

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  4. Thank you for that detailed post on the temple Arti. I've been to Siddhivinayak just once in my life, at an age when I did not know how to appreciate the ways of God :-)

    But thanks to Tata Sky Active,I get to See Siddhivinayak every day :-)

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  5. Reminded me of Dagdusheth Temple in Pune. Nice article Arti...

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  6. It feels so good to read your posts Arti as they establish a connection with the divine instantly!Keep writing with these lovely pictures in future too!

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  7. Hey lovely ya.The idol of Sheetla Mata is very different than the other idols I have seen.Happy Belated Ganesh Chathurthi.May all your wishes come true :)

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  8. Greta post Arti.... you have made it not only interesting with your pics and captions but, convenient also by the details ... its truly a virtual tour with emotional connect :) PS : its a Durva garland in the pic isnt it?

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    1. Thank you so much, Kokila :) yes, well spotted.. it is a durva garland indeed!

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  9. I used to go to this temple every Tuesday Arti. Thanks for the pictures.

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  10. All this serenity and divinity in this madding crowd wonderful!

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  11. Nice article. Everyone must have some place with deep association. One can go there for peace for reflection.

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  12. Interesting reading on your visit to the Ganesha Temple and your narrative is something takes all the way around the place. Excellent photos Arti! Peace prevails allover despite not being Tuesdays :)

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  13. Such a serene and peaceful temple amidst amidst all the humdrums of city life...nice pictures ...a treat to the eyes.. :-)

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  14. So lovely, Arti!
    Detailed with amazing pics :)
    We all love Him :)

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  15. Happy Ganesha Chaturthi Arti, nice ganesha temple you have..? no picture when visarjan happen?

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  16. The place looks really good. There are beautiful flowers, temples and people.

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  17. Thanks for the pictures Arti..Great post :)

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  18. Love the pretty flower garlands and displays - it looks like a very special temple! Hope you have alovely week Arti!

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  19. Never Heard about it , Will visit . Thanks for the info
    www.travelindiablog.com

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  20. Lovely place... Visiting this place bring more peace in our mind

    thanks for sharing

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  21. I always enjoy virtually touring temples with you, Arti. This one is particularly much more interesting knowing its role in your life. Love those beautiful flower garlands.

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  22. Thanks for the pictures Arthi....truly divine....beautiful photography especially the garland one is simply Superb !

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  23. Thanks for the great write up. I am away frm the temple but u recreated the environment again. It seemed I am visiting him. That too reading this on a Tuesday. Wat a coincidence. Ganpati bapa ..moriya

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