Mumbai: The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has made a huge impact on the Ganpati festival, this year. However, devotees ensured that they worship and celebrate their festival though not as usual but at least in a unique way.
Most citizens made full use of technology to celebrate the fest, especially for performing the rituals.
Due to pandemic and corona scare, pandits refused to visit households. But technology has come handy to pandits as well as devotees. "My building has been sealed by the civic authorities. So I couldn't visit households and even pandals like every year. But then my son told me to do virtual pooja i.e. to perform all the rituals and recite the mantras via video conference," said Pandit Balaji Swami, a resident of Matunga.
"With technology, I performed pooja almost at all the households, I visited. It was a new experience for all of us and I liked it because though I wasn't present there physically, I did everything (pooja, rituals) just like I do normally through video calls," the pandit added.
Even devotees used social media platforms to do pooja on their own. "Our pandit refused to come this year due to pandemic. We were initially tense for the rituals. But then I surfed on the net, watched several videos on YouTube," said Vikram Sarsar, a resident of Mahim.
"After watching several videos, we got an idea as to how to perform the Sthapna pooja and we followed the instructions in these clips. With this, we ourselves did the pooja even the Satyanarayan rituals," Sarsar added.
Apart from pooja and rituals, technology helped devotees to visit several pandals virtually. Many people, as well as prominent Ganesh pandals, took to social media to send invitations for online 'aartis' and consecration of idols.
The GSB Ganpati Mandal at Kings Circle in Mumbai went live on various social media platforms to avoid crowding of devotees at the pandal.
"We have been using apps like Zoom, Google Meet etc for our professional works. These apps are now being used to connect with each other during the Ganesh festival," said Savita Patil, an advertising professional who sent out online invites to her family members, friends and colleagues.
Immersion misses fanfare: Many Mumbaikars on Sunday bid adieu to Lord Ganesh by immersing idols in artificial ponds. With fanfare missing due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was a quiet send-off to Lord Ganesh. Beaches wore a deserted look with police turning away people who had come for immersing idols in sea. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray visited some areas in the city to take stock of the immersion plan. He visited a mobile artificial pit prepared on a truck and an idol collection centre at Priyadarshini park in South Mumbai. Such mobile artificial pits were created to ensure people do not crowd for immersion. The CM also visited an artificial pond created by the civic body in suburban Vile Parle.