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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Ganeshotsav in times of pandemic: Online aartis, toned-down decor at mandals in Pune

Along with the police and volunteers, the mandals will keep a check on gatherings around the pandals.

Written by Ruchika Goswamy | Pune |
Updated: September 10, 2021 7:28:10 am
An artist arranges idols of Lord Ganesh inside a tempo van for display and sale in Pune | Express photo

Small pandals, toned-down decorations, and websites and social media pages streaming proceedings live for devotees wanting to offer darshan and daily aartis (prayers) – these are some of the ways city’s prominent Ganpati mandals are observing a safe Ganesh Utsav in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the 10-day festival begins Friday, the mandals, working in tandem with the police and a team of volunteers, are taking all steps to ensure that Covid-appropriate behaviour is followed in and around the pandals.

Prashant Tikar, treasurer of Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganpati, the second Manache Ganpati, in the city said that the organisers have put up modest decorations so as to not attract a crowd. “Our preparations are almost as they were last year — the mandap is small and decorated with flower garlands. Keeping in mind the concerns with the virus, no one is allowed to enter the mandap. At most, the devotees can have a mukh darshan from the street at a distance but we urge them to watch the live telecast at home. Processions are not allowed hence the aagman will be toned down,” he said.

Like last year, an “Online Samvad Sammelan” will also be held that would see interaction with some prominent faces of the city on a variety of topics on all 10 days of the festival, he added.

Tulshibaug Ganpati, the fourth Manache Ganpati and the pioneer of large-sized idols in the city, witnesses a unique theme every year. But this year, they have simplified their arrangements, said Nitin Pandit, treasurer. “The mandal is more than a century old and this year, the committee members traced the years of decorations that have been done at Tulshibaug. The technology and resources in the yesteryears were very different. We interviewed people who were involved, artisans who were part of the events, and have compiled all that in a video format. The clip, titled ‘Shilpkarancha Ganpati’ (Artist’s Ganpati) will be made available online for public viewing during the festival,” he said.

One of the oldest mandals, Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari Mandal, will stream pre-recorded performances by playback singers Javed Ali and Priyanka Barve, devotional singer Anandi Joshi and classical vocalist Pandit Anand Bhate online to bring the Ganeshotsav festivities home. “We urge people to stay home and seek Ganesha’s blessings online. We will be uploading a pre-recorded clip of our cultural activities,” said Punit Balan, president of the mandal.

Sunil Kunjir, president of Garud Ganpati in Narayan Peth, said the organisers have decided not to go for sponsorships or collection of vargani (donations). “There has been an economic setback owing to the pandemic. So, there is a no to sponsorships. Asking for vargani will also not be considered good in the light of financial struggles of the people. Daily aartis and rangoli will be done by a handful of people of the mandal and devotees can view them virtually,” he said.

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