In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and financial constraints, several Ganesh mandals from Navi Mumbai have decided to keep this year’s Ganeshutsav a low-key affair. Around 65 Ganpati mandals from Airoli and Digha areas of Navi Mumbai have decided to put on hold the celebrations this year. The mandals instead plan to distribute sanitizers and create awareness about coronavirus. The 11-day festival starts on August 22.
Last week, the mandals held two meetings where representatives of political parties too were present. Keeping in mind the state’s pandemic guidelines, security measures and financial constraints, they decided to keep it subdued.
Suresh Bhilare, convenor of Digha-Airoli Samanway Samiti (DASS) said that celebrating the festival during the Covid crisis will convey a wrong message. “It is also our responsibility to look at the situation practically and take a call,” said Bhilare.
However, a majority of the Ganpati mandals are having financial issues. “During pandemic, seeking donation cannot be justified and without donation, arranging the 10-day festival is not easy,” said Bhilare.
In addition, funds of many Ganpati mandals are locked in the PMC bank. The RBI has capped withdrawal limits of PMC bank. “Around 25 to 30 Ganpati mandals’ fixed and other deposits are in the PMC bank. The withdrawal limit is capped to maximum Rs 1 lakh,” claimed Bhilare. He added that at least Rs 8 to 10 lakh is required to hold the 10-day festival.
Organisers are afraid that once the festival starts, people will come for puja at the pandals and it will be an uphill task to maintain social distancing.
Bhilare added that there is an effort to convince other mandals too to keep the festival a low-key affair. “We are constantly in touch with Ghansoli and Koparkhairane mandals including Nerul. A decision will be taken soon,” he said.