Yesterday, this paper carried a front-page report on how people were hospitalised after being stung by stingrays at Girgaum during the Ganesh immersion. The devotees felt a sharp pain in the lower part of their bodies, when they emerged from the sea; it was revealed that the fish had stung them. Luckily, they were non-poisonous bites.
While they all seem out of danger, let us never forget a lesson learnt from Australian environmentalist and television personality Steve Irwin’s death in 2006. Irwin succumbed to his injuries after a stingray pierced his heart while he was filming off North Queensland. It just proved that stingray wounds in rare cases could be fatal.
While the Girgaum incident may certainly be the first of its kind, it should make the warning bells ring louder than ever. Two persons also died in Panvel on Tuesday night when they had gone to immerse the Ganesh idol. Reports say they were poor swimmers and one of them perished while trying to save the other from drowning.
Every Visarjan, we hear of people drowning or getting injured somehow during immersion. Sometimes, weak swimmers overestimate their prowess or underestimate the current and go out too deep for immersion. Too much revelry in the sea is another dangerous phenomenon.
It is time devotees take responsibility for their safety. Go out to a depth where they are comfortable. If in a group, somebody can be entrusted with carrying a basic, safety kit with him or her. Adhere to lifeguard’s instructions and police rules during immersion. Doing Visarjan in a calm and orderly manner may be the best way to ensure an accident-free immersion. Let the fervour not drown out common sense and caution.