Despite several appeals from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), none of the representatives from over 15 well-known Ganesh mandals in the city turned up for Friday’s meeting.
Citing the recent serial blasts in the city, the officials wanted to brief the representatives on what precautionary measures their respective mandals could implement while making and distributing prasad among devotees, as they felt anti-national elements could poison the prasad.
“Considering the recent low-intensity serial blasts, this is the first year that we approached Ganesh mandals for the meeting. They took it casually and didn’t turn up for the meeting,” FDA Joint Commissioner S R Kekare said.
The FDA had released a list of ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for Ganesh mandals two weeks ago.
All’s well: Mandals
On being asked how do they intend to counter the possible threat of anti-social elements poisoning their prasads, representatives from several mandals said they mostly distributed dry eatables to avoid chances of food poisoning and ask their volunteers to monitor distribution of prasad, which were mostly modaks and pedhas.
“Usually, we offer traditional sugar candies (sakhar phutane). At times even modaks are distributed among devotees,” President of Natu Baug Ganesh Mandal Shirish Korde said. “We purchase prasad only from reputed sweetmeat shops and if anything goes wrong then the shopkeeper will be held responsible for it.”
On asked about the absence of mandal’s representative at the meeting, Korde said the mandal had sent a volunteer. “We offer simple prasad to devotees and avoid distributing something that can get messy. As a precautionary measure, only our volunteers prepare and guard the prasad,” President of Navgraha Ganesh Mandal Mansing Patole said.
The mandal offers mahaprasad on the last day of the festival wherein devotees are served one-time meal. Patole claimed only the mandal’s volunteers donate ingredients for the mahaprasad.
“We prefer to distribute khadhi sakhar for prasad. At times we do opt for modaks and pedhas. But only our volunteers do the distribution. We also check prasad and other items for security reasons,” Chairperson of the Manache Ganapati (fourth) Tulshibaug Vinayak Kadam said.
When asked did any of their representatives attend the FDA meeting, Kadam said somebody must have.