COVID-19 impact: Will Ganeshotsav finally be a quiet one this year?
There is no clarity on how the state's most popular festival will be celebrated due to social distancing norms and other rules
The pandemic has cast a shadow over upcoming festivals. With the Ganeshotsav less than three months away, Pen in Raigad district, which is famous for Ganesh idols, has restricted the entry of people from Red Zones. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their villages, the Ganpati idol makers have decided to themselves deliver the idols to sellers in Mumbai if the lockdown is further relaxed.
The Ganeshotsav is one of the most important festivals in Maharashtra and devotees from across the country and world come to cities such as Mumbai and Pune for it. Due to the pandemic, there is no clarity on how it will be celebrated because of social distancing norms and the restrictions on gatherings in public places.
'Protecting our villages'
A few months before the Ganpati festival, in Mumbai many road side pandals where Ganpati idols brought from Pen are sold, come up. However, this time, not a single pandal is seen. The owner of a Ganpati idol making unit from Pen told mid-day, that many sellers from Mumbai and Pune who are approaching the idol makers, have been told to avoid going there. The local grampanchayats have decided to restrict entry of people coming from Red Zones.
"Our business has suffered very badly in the pandemic but nothing much can be done because globally everyone has been affected. The Ganpati idol sellers from Mumbai have been approaching us but we are only taking online orders. The grampanchayats in Pen have decided not to allow people from Red zones to come to our villages, because we don't want the disease to spread there. We have told them that if government gives relaxations in lockdown then we will make arrangements to transport the idols to Mumbai but no one should come to Pen," said an idol maker from Pen.
Pen has an over 125 years old history of making Ganpati idols and they are in huge demand not just in Mumbai but in various parts of India. Some idols manufactured here are even exported to other countries.
'Unable to get raw materials'
Rakesh Dabhade, owner of Surekha Arts Dabhade Brothers, from Harampur village in Pen said "Due to the lockdown we were unable to get raw materials including plaster of Paris, etc. from Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. This year we have made less than 50 per cent idols because transporting them is an issue. Our grampanchayat has passed a resolution that we will not take the risk of giving the idols to the sellers by making them come to our villages, and so, after the lockdown we will think of delivering the idols to Red Zones including Mumbai."
Dabhade said that he makes over 60,000 idols every year but this year has made only around 25,000.
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