Our favourite Ganesha is arriving in Mumbai, some have already reached. The mighty festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most celebrated festivals in Mumbai and India. In honor of Lord Ganesha – the lovable elephant-headed God is illustrious all over India. Many Hindu families across India and abroad celebrate this festival with much grandeur in their homes. Meanwhile, the worship is limited to a bow, an aarti and the rest is gaiety. Maharashtra has reported the highest number of positive cases and deaths. This has forced organisers of the annual Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to make it low key affair. This is to minimize the infection spread since this event sees heavy public gathering across the pandals (event ground) across Mumbai, Pune and other regions. Areas like Parel, Chinchpokli and Byculla, which are near Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal, have several buildings and lanes identified as containment zones by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
According to the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), an umbrella body of Ganesh mandals in the city, there are a total of 11,400 Ganesh pandals across the city. Each pandal on an average spends around Rs 7 lakh on organizing the 10-day festival and the total turnover estimate of all pandals is over 800 crores in Mumbai during festival time. The donations have been reduced by almost 30 per cent given the fact that redevelopment projects in the city have been stuck for more than a year and many developers have backed out from giving huge donations. Many businesses and corporate companies got shut down and many small-scale industries suffered so the collection from all these sources has reduced to 50 per cent. Also, the political leaders have avoided putting up the banners and posters that have affected the revenue of the pandals. They can now get funds only through the events organized by the pandals and sponsored by a few entities. Moreover, in recent few years, the festival has been much politicized. So, all the politicians make sure they use the platform to reach out to the public.
The celebrations’ content has changed long back. It is no longer a platform for gathering to and participates in discourses on nationalistic, pro-Independence issues that Tilak created. When Lokmanya Tilak was in great distress and worried about our country’s freedom. He used to sit at the bank of Girgaum Chowpatty and wondered how to collect people. While sitting on the bank of seashore he used to make idols and people used to stop by to see it. British did not restrict such collective movement. So, from there he got an idea to celebrate Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav. Tilak was the first person to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and him was the one who established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day of the festival. Ganesh Chaturthi soon started seeing the community participation and involvement, in the form of cultural events.
Later on, this became an important festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra. It acquired a more organized form all over India during the Swaraj movement, when Lord Ganesha was chosen as a rallying point for protest against British rule, because of his wide appeal as “the God for Everyman”. The strongest movement to evoke nationalism, through religious passions, was the organization of Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, which inspired feelings of Hindu unity in the state. Once India became Independent, it had no such use anymore. But it endured as a tradition but only in its run as an annual event. It has, of course, a political content, but rather the perverse one. Gradually, these events became business and Ganesh pandals become richer than the business tycoons. They indulge is political findings to sponsorships and rarely, some contribution to social work. This year hardly any money collection, because
Devotees on Zoom, Facebook and other online platforms can view Ganpati Bappa during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival held this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 10-day festival, which starts on Saturday, has been cut short to one-and-a-half days at many places in Delhi. Organisers of Ganesh Chaturthi in the national capital region are busy creating social media links for virtual darshans and ensuring health protocol for those who will be at the mandals.