Ganeshotsav 2020: To beat lockdown worries, NGO offers free Ganesh idols to sarvajanik mandals
Kunal Patil

Mumbai: Amid pandemic, an Andheri East-based NGO – Jeevan Jyot Pratisthan, led by former corporator Murji Patel – has offered Ganesh idols free of cost to sarvajanik mandals this year. One of the members of the NGO Avinash Bhagwat told the Free Press Journal that since sarvajanik Ganesh mandals arrange for celebrations by collecting funds from people in their vicinity. This year, with several buildings being sealed and chawls becoming containment zones in the pandemic, fundraising has become a tough task.

"Due to pandemic induced lockdown, this time sarvajanik Ganesh mandals will not be able to raise funds through the traditional way. They may face shortage of money. Considering this aspect, our NGO is offering them Ganesh idols and pooja related items free of cost so that the annual Ganeshotsav will not be hampered," explained Bhagwat.

In Andheri East, from railway station till Powai there are about 350 sarvajanik Ganesh mandals. Bhagwat informed that they have received good response from these mandals and more than 200 Ganesh idols have been already booked by various organisers.

Shivmurti Varde from the Sai Vakratundh Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandal, Andheri MIDC, admired the step taken by the Jeevan Jyot Pratishthan. Varde said, "Due to coronavirus, several people are at home. Annually we collect funds for our Ganeshotsav from chawls and from other nearby houses. But this time due to lockdown, several people have already lost their jobs and in such situation asking them to do some charity would be wrong. We are glad that (Murji bhai ) understood the plight of all such mandals and decided to bear the idol cost besides providing other support." This mandal has been organising Ganeshotsav for the last 10 years.

The NGO is offering Ganesh idols made of both plaster of Paris (PoP) and clay. It has kept 50 idols ranging from 2 feet up to 4 feet of different designs and shapes for choice. For example, those Ganesh mandals who wish to book a Puneri styled Dagdusheth Ganpati then they are given a few idols of that style for selection.

In the market, the cost of PoP Ganesh idols of minimum 2 feet cost anywhere between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,500. While the cost of clay idols of 4 feet goes up to Rs 10,000 and more.

Reportedly, Maharashtra government in consultation with representatives of sarvajanik Ganesh mandals has capped the height of saravajanik Ganesh mandal idols at 4 feet. Moreover, CM has appealed mandals to keep the celebrations for the 11-day festival beginning on August 22 a low-key affair amid the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure fewer crowds and social distancing norms.

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