Mumbai: Ganesha may have very long walk to sea this year

Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 07:38 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Restrictions on idols being carried on viaducts, flyovers and bridges means processions will slow down massively, say mandals

An Ganesh idol made from beans and peas and weighing 35 kg has been the focus of attention at Shree Sai Darshan Mitra Mandal at Malad West. PIC/Nimesh Dave
An Ganesh idol made from beans and peas and weighing 35 kg has been the focus of attention at Shree Sai Darshan Mitra Mandal at Malad West. PIC/Nimesh Dave

Whle the 13,000 Ganesh mandals in the city expect the economic slowdown to create a slump in their sponsorship by a massive 25% this year, they are also worried that the idol immersion processions could take a longer time than in previous years because of restrictions on using the viaducts, flyovers and bridges. These cannot bear the excessive weight of the idols and thousands of devotees who participate in the processions.

Bridging the gap

The office-bearers said the restrictions on the movement of heavy vehicles on 26 flyovers, viaducts and bridges, would delay the immersion processions. They said the delay would happen despite a solution provided by the administration.

"The festival co-ordination committee, the BMC, and the city police have found a solution to ease the problem by allowing only an idol and select volunteers on the elevated structures, so that the weight bearing is not impacted while taking the idols for immersion. The other volunteers may take the roads below or the bridge after the idol reaches the other end. The drum-beating, blaring sound systems and dancing will be not allowed on bridges," he said.

Also Read: Ganesh Chaturthi 2019: Police bans firecracker, forcible fund collection in Hyderabad

The committee has also issued a code of conduct for the mandals to prevent violation of regulations. He said at least 10 volunteers each from big mandals have been trained by the city police in basic security measures and screening methods.

Slowdown effects

On the financial hit that mandals have taken this year, Naresh Dahibavkar, chief of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanway Samiti, told reporters at the Mumbai Press Club on Monday that the real estate sector, automobile industry and popular FMCG brands haven't shown much interest in extending monetary support because of a recession-like situation. "We expect to take a hit of 25% this year. Previously, demonetisation impacted our sponsorships and public donations. Compared to the last two years' collections, this year will be even worse," said Dahibavkar. When asked, Dahibavkar did not deny the possibility of escalating prices of gold – a new high of Rs 40,000 per 10 gm – discouraging devotees from being generous while donating ornaments to the deity.

Also Read: Blowing the Lord's trumpet

Dahibavkar said that despite the economic slump, the mandals would continue to contribute to charity and relief schemes. Some big mandals have already donated a good amount of money to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for flood-affected people.

"Last year, we collected nearly Rs 3 crore for Kerala flood victims. This year we wish to collect Rs 10 crore for the people of Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara and parts of Konkan," he added.

Also Read: Ganesh Chaturthi 2019: Your guide to Khetwadi Cha Raja pandal in Mumbai

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