For the first time in the history of the Ganeshotsav celebrations in the city, all five “Manache” Ganapati mandals have decided to immerse Lord Ganesha idols in water tanks of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) rather than going in for the usual river immersions.
Announcing the decision at a press conference on Friday evening, representatives of the five Manache Ganpati – Kasba Ganapati mandal, Tambadi Jogeshwari mandal, Guruji Talim mandal, Tulshibaug mandal and Kesriwada Trust mandal – said they had taken the decision keeping in mind the statewide drought situation and water scarcity in the city.
Following the announcement, two of the other five important mandals, Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Mandal and Akhil Mandai Mandal, whose members had come to congratulate the five Manache Ganpati for their progressive step, took an impromptu decision to go along with water tank immersions after consulting with trust presidents Ashok Godse and Annabhau Thorat.
Speaking to the press, Shrikant Shete, president of Kasba Ganapati Mandal which initiated the idea, said, “At 12.30 pm, we had a meeting of two mandals and the idea was proposed. We started consulting people of all other Manache Ganapati mandals and by 2.30 pm, we had reached a decision to do water tank immersions to save water. It was decided to inform the civic authorities and communicate it to all major mandals by evening, hoping that they follow suit. The only idea behind this is to not hurt any religious or public sentiment but adhere to a certain social responsibility that we all carry,” said Shethe.
Pravinsingh Pardeshi from Guruji Talim Mandal said the Ganeshotsav celebrations were started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak to bring society together as a whole. “Hence, it is necessary that the social aspect of the festival stays on top of our priority. Today, when people have no water to drink and animals are dying of thirst, we have to save every drop of water. And this responsibility comes before every wish that we may have,” he said.
Asked in which water tank the immersion would take place, members of the Kasba Ganpati Mandal said they would do at their usual spot, below Lakdi Pul.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Suryawanshi, treasurer of the Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Mandal, said that while the bigger mandals had taken the decision, he hoped the smaller ones would follow suit. “We have about 4,500 mandals in Pune and we hope they will take a cue from the decision of the bigger mandals. Not just that, since the majority of the river pollution comes from the nearly 9 lakh household immersions, we hope a majority of them choose to do it in water tanks this year.”
However, the decision also saw some opposition as representatives or Sanathan Sanstha’s Marathi newspaper Sanathan Prabhat, who were present at the occasion, raised some objections.
Asked by them whether the opinion of any religious expert had been sought before taking the decision, Shethe said the decision was taken after consulting the “gurus” of the mandal and reading relevant scriptures that say immersion should be done in a water source without specifying further. “Besides, whether we want to do the immersion in the clean water of municipal tanks or polluted water is our choice and we chose the former. My appeal to all is to not make this a religious debate but look at it from the humanitarian point of view,” said Shethe.
Some objections were also raised over the mishandling of idols in the water tanks by the PMC. However, mandal office-bearers said they had spoken to municipal authorities who had assured them of good handling and disposal of idols, with all due respect.
Mandals show the way, politicians follow
By Ajay Khape
The announcement on Friday by top Ganesh mandals in the city that they would immerse idols in water tanks caught unawares the political leadership, especially Pune’s Guardian Minister Girish Bapat, who had earlier ordered 0.07 TMC of water to be released in rivers and canals on the day of immersion at a time when city residents are getting piped water supply only on alternate days due to deficient monsoon.
The volume of water to be released, 0.07 TMC, is equivalent to city’s water need for a day. Bapat’s announcement was seen as a move to please voters and Ganesh mandals that have a network across the city and play a major role during elections.
On Friday, as the news spread that prominent Ganesh mandals had decided to immerse idols in artificial tanks due to poor availability of water in dams, the PMC hastily issued a press release urging people and Ganesh mandals to immerse idols in artificial water tanks provided by PMC and join hands to participate in “save water save environment initiative” during severe water crisis due to poor rainfall.