The Shri Tulshibaug Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal Trust,the fourth of the five Manache Ganapatis,since the last many years have been trendsetters in mythological tableaux. Located in the busy Tulsibaug market,the mandals 13-foot-tall idol remains decked with silver and gold ornaments. Vivek Khatavkar,president of the mandal,spoke to PARTHA SARATHI BISWAS about the challenges before the Ganesh mandals and this years speciality.
Tell us about the tradition of decoration of your mandal,especially this years decoration.
Tulshibaug Ganapati Mandal will turn 113 this year. The Ganapati in our mandal was installed by Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak and we have managed to continue with the traditions and ideals of the original festival. My father Prof D S Khatavkar started the trend of creating mythological tableaux in 1952. This started the trend of using various themes for decorating Ganesh pandals and thus we are pioneers in this style.
This year,we have recreated the sculptures of the Dasavatara panel at the Deogarh temple in Karnataka. While one of the panels represent Gajendra Moksha (Lord Vishnu coming to the rescue of his elephant shaped devotee) the other one represents Lord Vishnu on the traditional Seshsaya. These panels are fixed on either side of the pandal.
Tulshibaug Mandal is in the middle of a busy market. What are the security challenges and what steps have been taken?
Installation of the Ganapati at the present place dates back to the initial days of the festival. There is a temple dating back to the time of the Peshwas,dedicated to Lord Ganesh. In those days,the market was not big. Some old wadas lined the lanes and people used to carry out business there. In the last 10-15 years,the number of shops in the market have multiplied. Old wadas were razed to make new complexes and this has also increased the inflow of people. However,we have faced no problems in continuing with out present location. In fact,traders and people go out of their way to help us continue with the festivities. Volunteers man pandal round the clock during the 10 days of the festival. During the last five days of the festival,barricades are put across the pandal to streamline the crowds movement. This year we have put up eight CCTV cameras too.
What are the social initiatives undertaken by the mandal?
For us,the message of social initiatives does not end with the 10-day Ganesh festival. It goes on throughout the year. Our volunteers dont celebrate their birthdays with pomp but make it a point to donate for a good cause. Every year,during Diwali we organise shopping trips for orphans in the Tulsibaug area and treat them to ice cream and mastani. We do not put up flexes or cut cakes but go to the orphanages,destitute homes to celebrate our birthdays. With like-minded mandals we undertake social work like desilting of dams.
What are the major challenges before Ganesh mandals?
We have noticed a gradual decline in the number of volunteers in the mandals. Educated youths are veering away from the mandal,which is a cause of concern.