Ganesh Festival in Mumbai, the grandest attraction of the city’s calendar year, is celebrated with great fervour. But this year, it is going to be a low-key affair in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 11-day festival begins on 22 August on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi and concludes with Anant Chaturdashi which falls on 1 September.
Khetwadi is famous for 15-35 ft Ganpati idols and its vibrant ambience. Around 50,000 to 70,000 people congregate for darshan here. But this year celebrations would be kept simple, because of coronavirus, without any “aagman” or “visarjan” procession and dhol beats, organisers say. To maintain social distancing and take care of residents, devotees and volunteers, a simple idol of 2-5 ft will be arranged. The secretary of all Ganpati mandals in Khetwadi, Nalin Modi, along with Ganeshotsav team, however, adds that “everything depends on the authority’s guidelines”.
Many mandals at Girgaon, a hardcore Maharashtrian Brahmin area, too, have decided to celebrate Ganesh festival in a low-key manner. They will replace 15-20 ft Ganesh PoP idol with 3-5 ft idol made from clay this year. A lot of mandals will only allow locals and not outsiders to attend the festivities this year.
In Maharashtra, Ganesh festival budget is around Rs 200 crore but due to lockdown, several artists have not initiated the idol-making process which generally starts in April. Several mandals have cancelled orders, says Ganesh maker Suresh Kambli who owns a Ganesh idol making workshop in Parel. “It is a Covid-19 containment zone so the entire area is still under lockdown,” Suresh says, adding how earlier he used to get an order of 2,000 to 3,000 Ganesh idols on an average but he only got an order of 550 till now.
Mumbai’s renowned Andheri cha Raja Mandal Trustee Ganesh Salians asserts, “We will take a call in Juneend since a massive crowd needs to be controlled. We are hopeful that Covid-19 vaccine will come in the market by August.” Even in the Konkan region, many villagers have decided to place only one Ganesh idol per village along with a restriction on entry of outsiders.