Just a few months ago, the news about ransomware cyber threat had spread across the world. Among many commoners who were following the news related to the threat was city-based Piyush Shah of Sainath Ganesh Mandal. Though the Ganeshotsav was still two months away at that time, Shah had decided that during this year’s Ganesh Festival, the theme of the Sainath Ganesh Mandal would be cyber crime.
From online crime to addiction of internet amongst children to showcasing the glory of the Indian Army, city-based Ganesh mandals are experimenting with unusual and novel themes this year. “Every year, we try to touch upon some issue that are affecting the society and the common people. Every single day, we get to hear various cases related to cyber crime. I studied about this subject and learnt that there are 27 types of cyber crimes and millions of people become victims of cyber crimes across the world every year. In Pune itself, the cases are rising every day. Thus, in order to raise more awareness about it, we decided to have it as our theme this year,” says Shah, adding that other than an audio-visual recording on the subject, the mandal will also stage a live musical play that will talk about the issue.
Shirish Mohite of Seva Mitra Mandal says his mandal’s theme is titled “Balpana Haravala” (Childhood is lost). “Unlike earlier days, when kids would play traditional games like chor-police, gilli-danda and the like with a large group of friends, the kids these days are either busy with mobile or television. They have no friends. It is showing in their behaviour also as they are most of the time irritated, they become self-centred. Feelings like loving and sharing are lost, and so is their childhood. Other than decorating the mandal on the same theme, we are also showing a film on the topic,” says Mohite.
The growing incidents of terrorism on the border regions, which many a times lead to the deaths of the Indian soldiers, form the theme of Maharashtra Tarun Ganesh Mandal. The mandal is staging a play which has a military soldier as its protagonist. “While the countrymen are involved with petty politics, the soldiers keep losing their lives for the country. Every time a soldier dies, people share “sorry” messages on social media and then forget about it. We didn’t want to give a lecture on terrorism, surgical strike or banning of China goods. Thus, we have used this protagonist as a medium to speak to the people visiting the mandal and touch upon various topics without being preachy,” says Hanumant Ashok Shinde.
There are also some mandals which aim to revisit India’s rich history through their themes this year. The Ashtavinayak Ganesh Mandal in Navi Peth will be portraying the lesser-known tales about the laurels of Maratha warrior Sambhaji Maharaj which came to the forefront when he fought and defeated Mughal rulers, who tried to conquer Maharaj’s Ramshej Fort. Interestingly, the mandal is depicting the story through sand art by Pune sand artist Prasad Sonawane.