At 119,Kalyan Subhedarwada Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav mandal has a twist to its celebrations. Unlike yester years,when the 10-day-long festival was organised by men,the festival is being organised by an all-women group this year. Also this years theme is women power.
Riddhi Siddhi,the 100-member women group,is a local organisation. This year,the Subhedarwada Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav mandal entrusted this group with the responsibility of executing plans for the festival.
Besides planning for the festival,the group has also gone for door-door collection for arranging the funds. The events organised by the women during the festival include games for children,musical performances and arranging debates,among others. Every year,the festival is planned and organised by men. This year it was given to the all-women group as the theme was women power, said 50-year old Sunita Kelkar,president of Riddhi Siddhi mandal.
The mandal,unique for its simplicity,avoids corporate or political funding. Largely dependent on the donations of residents and devotees,it is known as the oldest mandal in Kalyan on the outskirts of Mumbai.
First started in a bungalow,now known as Subhedarwada that once belonged to Ramji Mahadev Biwalkar,a trusted chieftain of Punes Peshwas,the mandal later got the patronage of Lokmanya Tilak who visited Kalyan in 1906. He conceived the idea of organising the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav to awaken them on the cause of freedom struggle, said a member of the Subhedarwada Ganesh mandal.
According to Kelkar,since organising the festival was handed over to a small group of women,collecting funds was a challenge. Although we are a 100-member strong mandal,not every member is available daily. While homemakers would have to take some time off from household activities,working professionals would also have to juggle between duties to plan for the festival, said Kelkar. With the festival approaching,almost all members have to put in five hours of work daily.
Planning for the activities of mandal was a challenge for 46-year old Suchita Karmarkar,who handles a business part-time. On a typical day,I spend the evening at home cooking dinner for my family. However,for the past few days,I have been attending the mandal meetings till midnight, she said.
There is another reason why the fund collection proved to be tedious. Most of the original patrons of the mandal have shifted to newly-built housing complexes in Kalyan. Entry to these societies and searching for their flats floor-wise was quite a task, said Suchita.
The festivities will also include a seminar on the security of women.