Survivors of the landslide in Malin village, trying to resume their normal life, have welcomed Lord Ganesh in their temporary settlement. Last year, Malin and the neighbouring villages had not celebrated the festival as a mark of respect for those who died in the landslide in August 2014.
Digambar Bhalchin, sarpanch of Malin, said this year, the youngsters took the initiative of celebrating the festival, though it is not as grand as earlier. “They erected a small pandal near the temporary settlement and installed the idol. We will celebrate the festival for five days in a simple and somber manner,” he said.
Prior to its desolation, Malin used to witness a grand celebration of 10 days of Ganesh festival. Other than community lunches and dinners, the villagers used to take pride in various cultural events held to mark each of the 10 days of the festival. Last year, neighbouring villages of Aasen and Adivare had skipped the festivities as a mark of solidarity with Malin.
“Villagers living in temporary sheds are awaiting rehabilitation. Without any permanent homes, some villagers were reluctant to celebrate the festival. But the youngsters convinced most of us,” said Ganesh Lembhe. The festival started on Thursday evening, with the villagers performing aarti. The temporary sheds saw a rush of relatives who had come to Malin.
Laxman Pote, a survivor who shifted to his relative’s home in Ghodegaon, was one of those who had come to the temporary shed for the festival. “Our village had the best Bhajan Mandal and we were in demand across the villages in Ambegaon taluka during these 10 days of festivities. Although the present muted celebrations are a far cry from what they used to be, I am happy that Lord Ganesh has visited our village after a year’s gap,” he said.
Life for the survivors has been anything but smooth since the tragedy. Although political leaders talked about speedy rehabilitation, legal hurdles and problems in selecting the site were roadblocks. With the district authorities selecting a site in Adivare, villagers hoped that the rehabilitation process will move full steam.
Plans for construction of homes at the new site, Bhalchin said, have been finalised. “We formed the Malin Rehabilitation Housing Society a few days back and opened a bank account,” he said. Each home will require around Rs 6 lakh for construction, while the government has allocated Rs 2 lakh. The remaining amount, Bhalchin said, will be raised from organisations that have agreed to help them.