Ganesh Mandals Wait for Visitors
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28 August 2009
By Laxmi Birajdar
Just around the corner or along streets, they light up the festive spirit of Ganeshotsav with colour, music and throngs of people enjoying the jubilation. Tableaus by various Ganesh mandals are the most sought–after attractions for people who crowd the roads till wee hours of morning.
However, with Ganeshotsav celebrations being low–key this year, most Ganesh mandals are reporting a comparatively lower turnout of devotees at their pandals as compared to last year. Almost empty roads during late evenings and nights, a deadline of 10.30 pm and the fear of the H1N1 flu still lurking around, have been reasons for a quiet Ganeshotsav this year.
At the pandal of the Hind Tarun Mandal in camp, the strains of music are not loud as per the usual Ganeshotsav standards, and neither are the crowds. The tableau is based on martyrs of Maharashtra keeping in mind the state’s golden jubilee celebrations. “The crowd is barely 25 per cent of what it was last year. There is no crowd coming from the entire Pune district. We are also distributing masks and making announcements on the speakers for people to take precautionary measures against the swine flu,” says the mandal’s president, Dilip Giramkar.
With a tight deadline on the weekdays during Ganeshotsav, the pandals are closing by 10.30 pm. “People are observing discipline regarding the swine flu, and therefore, not taking to the streets to see tableaus of the Ganapati mandals,” says Ravindra Malvadkar, president of the Sakhalipeer Rashtriya Maruti Mandir Mitra Mandal, that cancelled its tableau this year.
On Friday, the mandal has invited priests of different religions and communities for a programme at 6 pm. “Every year, people throng our pandal to see the tableau. But this year, there has been a thin turnout of people. For the unique event on Friday too, we don’t expect a huge turnout,” says Malvadkar.
In order to let people enjoy the tableaus and the Ganpati idols at various pandals across the city, the Akhil Mandai Mitra Mandal is shooting their footage in order to prepare a CD. “We are going to make the CD available to various schools and to whoever approaches us for the same. This is to help people see Ganpatis at home as they couldn’t get outdoors comfortably this Ganeshotsav, owing to the swine flu scare,” says Anna Thorat, present of the mandal.
Krishna Mahal, as this mandal’s elaborate tableau is known as, Thorat says, the size of the tableau was cut down by two–thirds to make more space for easy flow of people who do stop by to enjoy it. “But this year, we’ve had barely ten per cent people stopping by as compared to those last year. Even our evening aartis are having few devotees in attendance,” adds Thorat.
With the ‘Gauris’ installed Thursday, there are chances of more people stepping outdoors to enjoy tableaus. “From Friday, we can hope to see more people stopping by to enjoy tableaus,” says Mansingh Patole, president, Navagraha Mandal, near Shaniwarwada. The mandal is presenting a live tableau titled, ‘Gad Aala Pan Sinha Gela,’ based on the great warriors who conquered Sinhagad. “Fortunately, there have been at least 500 people present during to presentation of the live tableau,” says Patole. But, other mandals prefer to have smaller crowds around their pandals.
“This year, we have only 30 to 40 per cent people turning up to see our mobile tableau which is based on Lord Shiva. But, it’s helping people to remain safe,” says Nitin Pandit, treasurer of Tulshibaug Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal.