Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020's Ganesh Utsav promises to be rather different. While some have opted out of celebrating the event altogether, others are forging ahead with a slew of precautionary measures.
For the first time in decades, the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has decided to not hold the festival. One of the most popular pandals in the city, Lalbaugcha Raja has in the past seen queues that stretch into the hundreds and a wait that can go up to 10-15 hours.
This year however, the famed mandal has opted to hold a blood donation drive. This is already underway and will go on till August 31, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Lalbaugcha Raja Yoga Kendra.
According to the Mandal's Facebook page, in 15 days, around 250 plasma donors have registered for the camp and 100 people have donated plasma.
Many of Mumbai's biggest Ganesh mandals have also taken the online route. While some plan to stream the aarti or enable darshan through video conferencing apps such as Google Meet and Zoom, others will be streaming the ceremony live.
King's Circle's GSB Seva Mandal for example has taken to urging people to stay tuned to their social media handles to seek Bappa's blessings. The organisation has also put up a link via which people can book puja or seva bookings. Note that Seva has to be booked a day in advance.
Another major mandal, the Andhericha Raja is also planing to take the virtual route. While the link is not yet available, the group says that it is likely to be updated on their social media platforms soon. The pandal is well known for the unique forms it takes and has been celebrating the festival for more than 50 years now. The ichhapurti Ganesh is sponsored by devotees every year and according to earlier reports, sponsors have already been arranged for the next 43 years.