WITH THE festival of Ganesh Chaturthi round the corner, prominent Ganpati mandals in the city are racing against time to put some final touches. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic has led to toned-down decorations and cultural festivities, the mandals will either install idols in their temples or in simple small eco-friendly pandals. Contrary to their busy cultural and religious itinerary every year, the mandals are planning to activate an open link on their websites and social media pages for devotees to view the Ganpati darshan and daily aartis (prayers) from within the safety of their homes.
Mahesh Suryawanshi, treasurer of the well-known Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir, said as the mandal witnesses a high footfall during the 10-day festival every year, it became necessary to increase security.
“Celebrations will be mellow this year. Anticipating that people might come in numbers to pray, our team of volunteers will ensure that there is no crowding around the temple. We will also not allow people to enter the temple to give chadawa (offering) or receive prasad. At the least, devotees can have a mukh darshan from the street, but we urge them to see the live telecast from home. For the 10 days, we have planned various cultural programmes that will be uploaded online and people can view it on our website as well our social media sites,” Suryawanshi said.
He also said the mandal was extensively involved in Covid care. The Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir, so far, has given their pandal area for a contact tracing testing centre and food supply for frontline workers at Sassoon hospital and their ambulances.
With a star-studded line-up of Ajay-Atul, Shankar Mahadevan, Viraj Joshi, Rakesh Chaurasia, Mrunal Kulkarni and many more, one of the oldest mandals, Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari Mandal, is bringing the festivities home.
“From August 22 to the last day, we will be uploading a pre-recorded clip of our cultural activities. The virus has created an atmosphere of despair but with the arrival of Bappa we will have only positive energy. We will have performances by Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s grandson Viraj Joshi, Shankar Mahadevan, and the renowned duo Ajay-Atul. Mayor Murlidhar Mohol and Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shiswe too will be a part. Even with decorations, we have opted for an eco-friendly bamboo structure for the small pandal,” said Punit Balan, president of the mandal.
The five Manache Ganpati mandals of the city too will have modest decorations apart from extensive social initiatives. “We have a simple arrangement this year, as we do not want to attract a crowd. People not only come to visit their beloved Bappa but also the decor. We have an online streaming service for people to have darshan at home, while people can also have mukh darshan 20 feet from the mandal. Our volunteers will work in shifts to ensure that there is no crowding,” said Rajabahu Tikar, president of Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganpati, the second Manache Ganpati in the city.
Bushan Pandya, trustee at Jilbya Maruti Ganpati Mandir, said while every year, the mandal was engaged in social activities, in the light of the pandemic, they would be more determined to help society. “We are still chalking out a schedule that all the major mandals will follow to hold blood donation drives and health camps. Worshippers can access live footage on safaldarshan and enjoy the festival at home,” he said.
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