The 50-year-old Babugenu mandal has begun a new practice of collecting Rs 10 from devotees and giving them a sacred thread and a one-rupee coin in return. Mandal workers were observed distributing threads and coins to thousands of devotees between 7 pm to 4 am on the immersion route on Laxmi road. Senior social activist and founder chairman of anti-superstitious committee Narendra Dabholkar lashed out at the mandal.
“Ganesh festival has a rich tradition and social significance. So taking undue advantage of devotees’ feelings should not be permitted,” he said. According to unnamed sources, workers were reportedly telling devotees that their desires and prayers would be fulfilled if they bought the sacred thread.
Babugenu Mandal chairman Balasaheb Marne said that the new practice was as per devotees’ demands. “We have entered Laxmi road around 12.15 pm. But before that, for four hours our Ganesh idol was fixed on the special rath made for the immersion procession. During this period, devotees were continuously asking us for the sacred thread.”
When informed that the distribution of threads was a superstitious practice, he denied it. “Previously we had decided not to distribute sacred threads during the immersion procession. But as the demand increased from devotees, we had to make it available. We have not forced anyone to purchase the threads.”