Low-key Ganapati festival in Mumbai amid coronavirus outbreak, online aarti proposed

Mumbai: The 11-day Ganapati festival in 15,000 Mandals across Mumbai will be a low key affair this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. There won't be huge processions or gatherings at the auspicious Aarti and at the time of the idol's arrival and immersion. Generally, the festival clocks a revenue in the range of Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore in Mumbai alone, with 30% incremental rise annually.

However, the Ganapati Mandals expect there will be a drastic fall in the turnover this year, the celebrations will be low key, and the response from the advertisers and donors will be minimal; this will be because of the financial stress following the economic downturn and the lockdown.

The co-ordination committee of the Ganesh festival on Thursday responded positively to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's appeal to celebrate the ensuing Ganapati festival in a simple manner without much fanfare. Thackeray said although the state government’s 'chase the virus' strategy is working, the pandemic is far from over. He appealed to the Mandals to strictly follow social distancing and safety norms during the celebrations.

Mumbai is not the only leading hub of the festival; Pune has 5,000 pandals and Ahmedabad and Nagpur account for roughly 2,000 and 1,500 mandals, respectively. Akhil Sarvajanik Ganeshostav Mahasangh Secretary Suresh Sarnobat, too, said that the festival will be simple. ''The visitors will be screened and their temperature checked at the time of entrance in a pandal. Social distancing will be observed and sufficieent sanitizers will be in place.

To avoid gatherings, online Aarti and prasad will be organised. Besides, online advertisements will be organized to mop up resources,’’ he noted. He further informed that donations will not be collected house to house but accepted in the pandal only. On the other hand, Lalbaughcha Raja Mandal Secretary Sudhir Salvi said they will decide the nature and format of this year’s Ganapati festival by June 22. ''The celebration will be within the government’s framework and as directed by the Chief Minister,’’ he noted.

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