In a country like India, where festivals are the highlights of the year, although it’s hard time in the country due to Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s indigestible to discover that Ganesh Chaturthi, one of the most awaited festivals in the country, will not be celebrated with that zealous this year that it is celebrated every year. Just at the start of this month, people were convinced to realize that if not as loud and grand as every year, the chorus of Ganesh Pooja will still reach them.
On Saturday, June 20, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thacheray, held a meeting with the representatives of various mandals across Mumbai to discuss the celebration of Ganesh Utsav and earnestly appealed to them to consider shorter idols, approximately 4 ft. and to build smaller pandals considering the contagion due to COVID-19 outbreak. He also advised the representatives of the mandals to take care of the hygiene factor by setting up health camps, awareness programmes and providing medical facilities. The mandal representatives then informed him of the immersion of the idol and route of the procession. Later in the same week, CM Thackeray requested the mandals to keep the celebrations low-key.
Earlier this month, Swapnil Parab, the Secretary of Lalbaughcha Raja Mandal, said, ”Mumbai ka Raja, also known as Ganesh Gully Ganpati, decided to celebrate Ganeshotsav in a simple manner this year as per instructions given by the authorities.” He had also said that keeping in mind the pandemic situation and safety of the people, not only the procession route will be shortened but the idol will also be immersed in an artificial pond instead of the Arabian Sea.
With an unexpected rise in the number of active cases of COVID-19 in Maharashtra, the state has become a hotspot for COVID-19 off-late. With Maharashtra standing at 1,70,000+ active cases, 88,960 recovered patients and 7,610 deaths, the state has been ranking top in COVID-19 cases reporting. To add to it, another lockdown has been imposed with more stringent restrictions while few relaxations brought in place for people with genuine cause. The citizens wait for normalcy to return in the state when they can move freely like prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Given the situation and precautions we must take, Ganesh Utsav celebration was announced canceled for this year by the Lalbaughcha Raja Mandal, earlier today i.e. Wednesday, July 1. The Lalbaugcha Raja mandal, instead, will engage in social work for the 11 days of festivities. “Mumbai’s Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal has decided that they will not celebrate Ganeshotsav this time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will not establish Lord Ganpati’s idol and will do social work for those 11 days of festivities.” the Mandal officials stated. By social work, the Mandal officials meant to set up blood donation and plasma donation camps in the same premises where the Ganeshotsav Celebration would take place.
Mumbai's Lalbaughcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal has decided not to hold Ganeshotsav this time in wake of #COVID19 pandemic. A blood & plasma donation camp will be set up in its place: Lalbaughcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal (in the picture – last year's Ganpati idol at Lalbaughcha Raja) pic.twitter.com/1FiHg68QAX
— ANI (@ANI) July 1, 2020
“A blood donation and plasma donation camp will be set up at the same place. Also, they will honour the families of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives at the LoC or LAC borders. This is the first time in the history of Lalbaughcha Raja that Ganpati Idol will not be established.” the officials added. Mumbai’s Lalbaughcha Raja is famous among devotees who gather from around the country to witness it’s aura and greatness. Sadly, that cannot be the case this year.
Lalbaughcha Raja Mandal, formerly known as Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Mandal, Lalbaug, was founded in 1934. It has been more than 85 years that the Mandal has been celebrating the Ganesh Utsav in the grandest way. The exquisite idols of Lord Ganesh every year have been personally sculpted by the Kambli family by themselves for decades. The owner of a small idol shop at a lane in Lalbaug, Ratnaker Kambli, sculpted his first idol for the Mandal in 1935, passing away in 1952 whilst handing over his legacy to generations after him. With a history as rich as it is, emotions as many as people have attached to it and the number of countless devotees, for the first time in 85 years, Lalbaughcha Raja wouldn’t appear before his devoteesthis year in Lalbaugh’s auspicious place.