Mumbai ganeshotsav: Ganpati mandal invites acid attack survivors to spread positive message

Sep 05, 2018, 08:32 IST | Chetna Yerunkar and Bipin Kokate

Lower Parel's Panchaganga Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal ropes in survivors to spread a positive message to others who have faced similar violence

Mumbai ganeshotsav: Ganpati mandal invites acid attack survivors to spread positive message
Art director of the mandal Sumit Patil with Sneha Javale (left) and Sai Parkar. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Lower Parel's Panchaganga Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal's theme this year is acid and burn attack survivors' stories, and it is also going to spread the message of stopping sale of acid to curb such attacks. The mandal is planning to invite several survivors to the pandal during the 11-day festival.

Taking the world head on
mid-day spoke to two survivors who are helping the mandal in this cause; while one has faced violence over dowry demand in 2000, the other faced harassment from her relatives. Sneha Javale, who will soon be starting her own NGO to work for various social causes, said, "My husband and in-laws harassed me for dowry, and in the process, took away my identity. After they burnt my face, nobody came to support me. It was only through meditation that I found my peace. It is important that a victim stops treating herself as a victim and faces the society smiling."

Tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal shows the stage built for foreign tourists at Girgaum Chowpatty
Tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal shows the stage built for foreign tourists at Girgaum Chowpatty

Sai Parkar, who did not wish to dwell on her past, said that instead of saying what happened, her focus is on what to do if such a thing happens. "It took me a long time to come out of the trauma about how I look and what had happened to me. Thankfully, an NGO came to my rescue; it also helped me get treatment. Now, I am part of it and motivate survivors to face the world and feel beautiful."

Help at your fingertips
The mandal has also come up with an SOS app called Sanjeevni for women. The women's safety application has been developed in such a way that it doesn't need Internet connection to work. It will have three emergency numbers — of police, fire and ambulance — as default contacts. The minute SOS is pressed on the app, a message will be sent out along with the woman's location, so that help can be sent immediately.

Sneak peek for foreigners at Chowpatty
The government now wants to promote Ganeshotsav internationally by giving foreign tourists a platform to sneak a peek at the festivities. MTDC and BMC have jointly come up with the initiative to showcase popular immersion processions. The civic body has constructed a stage exclusively for foreign tourists, who can register free of cost on the MTDC website. They will receive a free hotel pick-up and drop. Tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal said, "Last year, too, there was a stage for foreign tourists, and we received a good response. Hence, we thought why not do it again? It will be a one-day free event on September 23."

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