Ganesh takes the Godavari Express

Thanks to the District Railway Passenger's Association, a ten-day Ganesh idol has found a home in the Kurla-Manmad-bound Godavari Express train where passengers keep vigil

You are bound to feel safer on your journey in the super-fast Godavari Express as it travels from Mumbai's Lokmanya Tilak Terminus through  Kurla to Manmad Junction in less than four-and-a-half hours. And that's because you will share the compartment with the Lord himself.

Members of the Nashik District Railway Passenger's Association have decorated the compartment in a manner befitting a special guest, a Ganesh idol that will take the Mumbai-Nashik route everyday till September 9, a day before the last day of the festival, when the idol will be immersed at Manmad. This is a tradition that started 15 years ago.

"The festival is organised with the help of contributions from members of our association and we make sure we perform daily aartis just the way Sarvajanik Mandals do," says Pramod Aher, President of Nashik District Railway Passenger's Association.

This year, they have also planned a Satyanarayan Pooja to be held on the eighth day, after which prasad will be distributed among all members and passengers aboard the train.

"We have acquired official permission from the Railways to decorate the compartment," says Aher.

But it's not been easy. Every night after the train gets to Manmad and into the yard, Ashok Tiwari makes sure he spends the night in the compartment, beside the idol.

Tiwari, who works for a courier company, has taken leave for the purpose and happily stays away from his home and family for the 10 days that the festival lasts, as a sign of gratitude for the good fortune the Lord has bestowed on him.
"This is my way of thanking him for giving me a job in and allowing me to live a respectful life. Earlier, I used to shine shoes at a station."

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