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Bhakts to miss Bappa this year

The cherished season of festivity will be an extremely low-key affair this year

Updated: Jul 02, 2020 23:56 IST

By Navneet Vyasan and Nishad Neelambaran, Hindustan Times Mumbai

Mumbai’s famous Lalbaugcha Raja (PHOTO:Satish Bate/HT Photo)

In almost two months, the island city’s most cherished festivity, Ganesh Chaturthi, synonymous with devotion and cheer, arrives at its shores. However, the outbreak of Covid-19, and the consequent lockdowns had raised doubts about this year’s festivities. Now, the city’s biggest pandals and its organisers have taken the decision to postpone or skip this year’s community celebrations as a means to make sure everyone is safe.

This has, undoubtedly, been a source of sorrow among devotees, but the larger consensus is of the opinion that there was no two ways to go about it. Take for instance, Krishna Kumar, a 24-year-old professional, who had plans to visit the pandal this year. “I’ve been in Dubai for the past 4 years,” he says, adding “But I went to college in Mumbai. On numerous occasions I’ve thought about why I haven’t been to Lalbaug to seek the blessings of Lalbaugcha Raja. I came back this year and was planning to visit this time. But I guess it’ll have to wait another year,” he says.

 

Another regular devotee, Apurva Shetty, an IT Professional, says that she and her family along with other friends used to look forward to the final day of the immersion. “For over 20-odd years, we have made it a tradition to visit the GSB Seva Mandal and during the last day, one of our family friend used to set up a vada pav stall in Dadar where we distribute free vada pavs to devotees and others who are taking their Bappa for visarjan. This year, it won’t be the same.”



For Kiran Khatu, a volunteer at Lalbaugcha Raja, this year is not going to be any different. He says, “This year we are organising blood and plasma donation camps and I along with other volunteers will support the mandal like we always do during the 11 days of Ganesh Chaturthi. I am sure every person who comes to this camp will have Bappa in his or her mind.”

Recently, the committee from Lalbaughcha Raja announced that they will cancel the celebration and organise blood and plasma donation camps in its place. Sudhir Salvi, secretary, Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, says, “We will await our Lord’s arrival next year. Today, the country is going through a crisis and we’ve received immense support from devotees.” Salvi also said that they’ll be “donating ₹25 Lakhs to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund”.

 

It’s not just Lalbaug, Goud Saraswat Brahmin Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti of Wadala or GSB, will give their 10-day-long celebrations a miss this year. However, Ulhas Kamat, president of the mandal, has announced that they’ve postponed the celebrations to February 15 when Maghi Ganesh Chaturthi begins.

Similaryly, Swapnil Parab, secretary, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli, who organise Mumbaicha Raja, says, “We always bring a 22ft idol every year. But this year, adhering to the government guidelines, we will keep only the 4ft eco-friendly idol and will avoid any gatherings.”

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