Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha

BHOPAL: Lord Ganesha will have to make do with a few devotees, toffees as Prasad, online aarti and scaled-down rituals in celebrations of the Ganesh Utsav by Maharashtrian organisations in the city, courtesy corona.

The ten-day festival of the Vighnaharta, which will begin from Saturday, is a mega affair in Maharashtra – the state from where public celebrations of Ganesh Utsav began. The around 3.5 lakh Maharashtrians residing in the city have also been celebrating the fest with great pomp and show every year. However, this time, due to corona-related restrictions, the around 17 organisations of Maharashtrians in the city have decided that the celebrations will be on small scale. “We are a law-abiding community and have decided to follow the directives of the central and state governments and the district administration,” said Surendra Vaidhya, president of the Apulki Maharashtra Mandal.

The Mandal will be installing an eight-inch idol of the Lord. The devotees will not be allowed to bring flowers or Prasad. Those entering the Pandal will be required to wear masks and sanitise their hands. Toffees will be distributed as Prasad and only three persons will be performing the morning and evening Aartis.

Every year, the organisation used to invite artistes from Mumbai and Pune for cultural performances. “This year, we will hold no public function”, he said. There will be three competitions and all will be held online – first, a traditional Marathi attire competition for women; second, a singing competition and third, a poetry recitation competition. “Bahut kasht ho raha hai par kya karein (It is very painful but what to do)”, Shrikrishna Bhise, patron of the organisation and former principal of MVM said.

The Vanita Samaj, an organisation of women of Maharastrian community, will install the idol in a hall on the premises of Anand Vihar School. “The idol is of clay and it will be immersed in a tub,” said Sunanda Thakar, President of the Samaj. The devotees will have to undergo thermal scanning and sanitise their hands at the gate. Whole fruits and packed modaks will be distributed as Prasad.

According to Poonam Kulkani, President, Maharashtra Mandal, Kolar Road, their members will have a darshan of the Bappa and see aartis through Google Meet and Zoom. “No one will be allowed to visit the Pandal and only working committee members will perform the aartis by rotation on the ten days,” she said. All activities for children, women, men and senior citizens will be held online. Prasad will be sent to the homes of the members.

Mukund Dattatreya Godbole, Vice-President of the 53-year-old Marathi Sanskritik Mandal, Piplani said that they have declared 2020 as zero year. “In our society, there is a tradition that one family arranges the idol every year. Bookings have been made for up to the year 2027. But this time there will be no idol and the festival will be celebrated symbolically,” he said. There will no lighting, no sound system, no flowers, no garlands, no Prasad, nothing,” he said. Devotees will be given entry into the Pandal only one at a time and no one will be allowed sit inside,” he said.

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