Having mysteriously banned devotees over 13 years from entering their pandal for darshan if they are dressed in short clothes, the authorities at Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal have now revealed what, or rather who, motivated that decision.
Sources in the mandal revealed that the sartorial law was implemented after model Poonam Pandey’s visit to the pandal last year, reportedly in a pair of shorts.
A source in the mandal claimed that Pandey’s entry in the pandal for darshan of Andhericha Raja caused quite a stir last year (see pic), and that the mandal had a “tough time handling her.”
The mandal had been mulling the idea of implementing the dress code for a year now, and finally decided to go ahead with it at its meeting last month. MiD DAY had reported on the ban on people above age of 13, wearing shorts, short skirts, or anything above the knee (‘Andheri Mandal bans shorts, short skirts,’ August 20).
The mandal has now gone a step ahead, and even made special arrangements for those who land up with short clothes, unaware of the ban. The pandal would have separate enclosures, ‘changing rooms’ if you will, stacked with ‘proper’ clothes which devotees can change into, if the volunteers evaluate their clothing to be ‘indecent’.
A senior mandal member said in confidence, “Poonam Pandey was the main reason why we had to take this decision. When she entered the pandal, the environment turned ugly because of the way she was dressed, so much so that we didn’t want to give her the celebrity treatment in our mandal.”
Uday Salian, a member of the mandal confirmed the incident, saying, “She is one of the reasons behind the decision, but not the only one. There were many more such incidents with many youngsters who came to our pandal as well. We are planning to make alternative arrangements for those who come improperly dressed for darshan from outside Mumbai. We cannot send them back, but it is still under consideration.”
Responding to the matter, Pandey said, “Nothing is hidden from God. God knows what kind of a person I am, so going to the mandal wearing a saree would not have made a difference in the blessings he bestowed on me. Instead, I chose to go in my regular shorts. I don’t think that putting a dress code in place for entering a Ganpati pandal is right, as the connection with God is more important.”