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Despite COVID-19, Mumbaikars' faith in Lord Ganesha remains intact

Despite COVID-19, Mumbaikars' faith in Lord Ganesha remains intact

Despite COVID-19, Mumbaikars' faith in Lord Ganesha remains intact
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By Anurag Tiwari  Aug 22, 2020 5:04:29 PM IST (Published)

Vighnaharta of the big city Mumbai has arrived and the ongoing pandemic seems to have failed at shaking the faith of Mumbaikars towards their beloved bappa.

Vighnaharta of the big city Mumbai has arrived and the ongoing pandemic seems to have failed at shaking the faith of Mumbaikars towards their beloved bappa. 10-day long festival has kicked off in the city in accordance to the low-key festive norms set by the state government. Though the official orders have advised to restrict the sizes of lord Ganesha's idol to four feet at public installations and two feet at home, people's faith in lord Ganesha is certainty not reduced as they gear up to seek blessings of the almighty.

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BMC, keeping in mind the coronavirus spread across Mumbai Metropolitan Region, last month issued a host of guidelines to celebrate the most popular religious event of the Maharashtra. Abiding by the set norms, sarvajanik ganesh mandals across the city, which have been renowned for their public installation of the idols of lord Ganesha, have set in place various safety measures at the worship site in order to reduce the crowd of worshipers.
Among the most popular sarvajanik ganpati mandals of Mumbai, Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal, keeping the safety of citizens of Mumbai in mind, this year has decided to forgo the idol worship and instead has organised plasma donation and blood donation drive.
Sudhir Salvi, secretary, Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal expressed that instead of regular festivities, this year mandal has shifted focus towards health and awareness to help the fight against COVID-19. Salvi stated that mandal will also donate Rs 1 lakh each to the families of policemen who lost their lives during the pandemic in the state.
Plasma donation camp being organised at the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal in Mumbai. Mandal is organising a blood donation camp through which it plans to donate around 5,000 bottles of blood in ten days. (Image Courtesy: Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal)
Another one of the popular and oldest ganpati mandals of the big city, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav, Ganesh Galli, this year has put in place a four feet idol of lord Ganesha instead of a regular 22 feet idol. While the entry inside the worship site or pandal is restricted to a maximum of five people at a time, the organisers have requested the worshipers to be at home and worship the idol through 24 hours online darshan facility. Mandal secretary Swapnil Parab said that though there is no restriction on people who want to visit the site and worship the idol, we encourage people to stay home and use the online darshan facilities.
On the other hand, GSB Seva Mandal, King Circle, has established a four feet lord Ganesha idol for five days but will not allow any public visitors. It has installed online as well cable television darshan modes for the people to worship their idol.
COVID-19 Impact On Idol Makers
Impact of COVID-19 on businesses can be witnessed during the low-key celebration of ganpati festival as well. Livelihood of the small-scale workers associated with the festival such as idol makers, decorators, flower vendors, etc, has taken a hit. Naresh Dahibavkar, president of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti in an interview to PTI had informed that the turnover of these small businesses is over Rs 70 crore during the festival time which is bound to get severely affected this year.
Idol maker Santosh Kambli, famous for designing the Mumbai's famous Lalbaugcha Raja, this year has faced huge crunch in business but he welcomed the BMC's decision in interest of people's well-being. Of the handful idols he prepared this year, one was for renowned celebrity Shilpa Shetty.
Santosh Kambli, who for the last four generations has been preparing the idol for Lalbaugcha Raja, said that his business is reduced by over 90 percent this year due to the guidelines issued by the BMC and fear psychosis in minds of people due to COVID-19.
"We every year prepare around 200 idols of lord Ganesha but this year our orders have come down drastically. Hardly 20 orders were placed this year of which majority of them were from outside Mumbai," added Kambli.
State government's mandate though has brought misery to the small businesses but authorities justify their decision by fact that ganpati festival by its very nature involves a large and uncontrollable gathering. Mumbaikars have welcomed the decision with open arms as according to them any alteration in idol size and in the way of celebrating the festival of their beloved lord Ganesha will not remould their faith in the almighty.
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