Lakhs of devotees in Mumbai bid adieu to Lord Ganesha on Thursday by immersing the idols at various places amidst chants of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’.

Devotees thronged streets and gathered at various points like Girgaum Chowpatty, Juhu Beach and Shivaji Park to catch a last glimpse of their deity.

The famous ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ Ganesh idol, which attracted lakhs of devotees during the ten-day long festival, would be immersed at Girgaum Chowpatty in the wee hours on Friday, while the procession left from Lalbaug in central Mumbai on Thursday afternoon.

Over 4,000 big and 35,000 small Ganesha idols are to be immersed at 105 points in the city.

Armed security personnel have been deployed at strategic locations and are keeping vigil to manage the crowd during the immersion procession.

The Navy and Coast Guard are rendering necessary assistance at the beaches to ensure that the celebrations pass off smoothly.

The Indian Coast Guard has deployed an intercepted boat, fully equipped with rescue gear, and a helicopter is providing aerial cover for speedy assistance in case of any untoward incident, officials said.

The Navy, in addition to relief teams positioned at Malad, Ghatkopar, Mankhurd, Worli and Naval dockyard, has deployed two diving teams at Girgaum and Powai.

The team is fully equipped with specialised underwater breathing apparatus, rescue gear and inflatable craft to assist devotees in the immersion activities.

As in 2008, this year too the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai has created 17 artificial ponds for immersion of small-sized Ganesh idols to help ease the pressure on the major immersion sites along the sea front.

The MCGM has deployed 40,000 staffers to oversee the immersion arrangements, 56 motorboats at various locations, 500 lifeguards, and 6,000 volunteers.

It has also set up 60 first aid centres, 52 ambulances, 12 mobile toilet complexes and 31 watch-towers at the sea fronts.

In Pune city of Maharashtra, devotees carried their heavily garlanded idols of Lord Vinayaka, as the Ganesha is also called by His devotees, in processions amidst beating of traditional drums during the farewell ritual.

Unlike earlier years though, there were fewer people crowding the streets because of the H1N1 flu scare.

The procession of some of the other bigger mandals was toned down, many did not have the usual group of school students playing dhol-tasha because of the decision to celebrate the festival in a subdued manner.

“Lord Ganapati is very dear to our hearts. It makes us nostalgic to see our Lord leaving us after the 10 days of festivities performed at various Puja Pandals. We wait for this religious festival every year with big enthusiasm,” said Trupti, a college lecture and a devotee in Mumbai.

The festival marks the birth anniversary of Ganesha, who is revered by the Hindus as the divine index of good omen and prosperity.

The immersion of the idols marks the conclusion of festivities for many, but the devotees believe He will again return next year and bring happiness and joy.