For the love of Bappa

Sep 16, 2018, 11:04 IST | Anju Maskeri

This engineer has been hosting Ganesh Chaturthi feasts for 19 years. What's more, he organises the immersion at home, too

For the love of Bappa
He is famous for whipping up delicious vegetable biryani. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

It's that time of the year when civil engineer Deepak Meghnani's Chembur home turns into a hub of communal festivities. As tradition, for the last 19 years, Meghnani has been hosting close to 600 to 700 people at his sprawling home — over five days — in which he prepares a range of delicacies as offerings to Bappa. "I do it because I'm a chef first, and engineer later," gushes the 57-year-old, who has executed projects like the Chembur Gymkhana, Courtyard by Marriott and the police stadium at Ghatkopar.

Deepak Meghnani immerses the eco-friendly Ganesh idol in a tank made of glass
Deepak Meghnani immerses the eco-friendly Ganesh idol in a tank made of glass

Keep it simple
The fare is usually broken down into lunch, snacks and dinner in order to make it easy for him and his wife, Anita, to work on the preparations. No outside caterer has ever been roped in for assistance, he adds. "I prepare an Excel sheet days in advance on what dish to prepare, the quantity and the number of guests, to ensure the process is seamless," he says. While the count of dishes often exceeds two dozen, he insists they are all pretty simple. "Ganesh celebrations are about simplicity and that applies to food, too. As a rule, we don't use garlic or onion. It's entirely sattvic," he says. The menu mainly includes Sindhi dishes such as dal pakhwan, kadi chawal, aloo tuk, kadak bhindi, vegetable cutlets, dhokla, aloo bhajia and more.

No sinking feeling
What's also different is that unlike previous years, Meghnani won't be going to the nearby talao for Ganpati immersion. He has crafted a mechanism to ensure that the idol is immersed in a tank made of glass below it. "Being an engineer, I wanted to see to it that everything used during our Ganpati celebrations is recyclable and eco-friendly," he says. Interestingly, his little engineering marvel has received compliments from city's former police commissioner, Rakesh Maria.

According to Meghnani, it took him seven days to construct the tank and get the mechanism in place. But it was a task that he was intent on finishing. "All those years when I would see remnants of non-biodegradable idols causing damage to water bodies and marine life, it would bother me. As a devotee and a responsible citizen, I felt it was my duty to not indulge in the same," he says. Made of clay, the idol will be mechanically lowered into the tank with the help of two pulleys and a rope connected to the steel mandir by the end of the fifth day. Within 30 minutes, the idol will dissolve in water and the soil will be used for plants.

Meghnani has ensured there's not a single piece of plastic in his house. The decorations he uses include flowers and LED lights. "Bisleri water bottles are the only plastic we have. That's because there's no choice until they come up with a viable alternative," he says.

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