After midnight on Mondays, dozens of believers are spotted taking their weekly walks to the Siddhivinayak Mandir in Prabhadevi . Starting from different parts of the city, the journey on foot concludes at the temple in the early hours of Tuesday, which is believed to be an auspicious day to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesh. Some of the believers, either by themselves or in groups, have been carrying on with the practice for decades. Chandralekha Dasgupta (35) has been walking to the temple since 1995. She walks nearly 11 kms from Chembur on Tuesdays and Saturdays. “I set out at 4 am, and reach the temple around 7 am”, said Dasgupta.
Carrying a small thali with flowers from her garden, and some incense sticks, she said, “I usually walk barefoot, but I have to wear chappals during monsoon.” Arunima Singh (23), who starts her walk from Khar, said, “I have been coming here for the last six years. I have not stopped since my prayer for good results in board exams was answered.”
She starts walking from her home after midnight and reaches the temple by 3:15 am, just in time to attend the Shree Darshan on Tuesdays. Singh added that she has made friends from all age groups at the darshan, and often walks with them to the temple. However, not all are regular. Sanjay Mehta took a walk after seven years to the temple. “I’ve just been drowned in work, and could never make time. However, I told my wife to just do it, as we hadn’t done it since 2010,” he said.
Pointing out that they were not in a good enough shape to walk from Sion, Sanjay’s wife Arpana said, “I haven’t seen the inside of a gym in years, while Sanjay had never seen one.”
“If we had felt like we couldn’t do it, we would have taken a cab. Thankfully, we have that option in Mumbai,” she added. Another concern, Aparna said, was that of safety. “We didn’t carry any valuables, except for my wallet,” said Sanjay. “We wanted to listen to the music on the way, but we chose not to carry our phones, for safety reasons. It was still nice, as we got time to talk to each other,” added Aparna.
Like Sanjay and Aparna, there are plenty of others who had to discontinue the practice due to work commitments. “I used to walk to the temple at night regularly. But since I have to operate on Tuesdays, I walk as soon as I’m done with the operation threatre,” said Dr Seema Ubale, who walks to the temple from her hospital in Byculla.