Ganeshotsav 2022: Here's how people are gearing up to welcome Ganpati Bappa

With the Maharashtra government lifting Covid restrictions on Ganeshotsav, everyone is excited to bring the Vighnaharta home and celebrate the festival like the good old days

Manasi Y MastakarUpdated: Saturday, August 27, 2022, 08:14 PM IST
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The stage is set. Streets are lit. Homes are cleaned. There’s a buzz on the streets. People are gearing up to welcome Ganpati Bappa. The Maharashtra state government has lifted Covid restrictions that were imposed in 2020 on various festivals. There’s no limitation on the height of the Ganpati idol nor on the number of devotees that can enter the pandal to seek blessings. Nor are there any curbs for welcoming the Bappa home or the visarjan. After two years of low-key celebrations owing to pandemic-induced restrictions, there’s a definite excitement in the air this year for Ganeshotsav.

“We are so happy and excited to welcome Bappa home. For the last two years, we brought smaller murti so that it would be easier to do the visarjan at home. However, this year, we have gone back to our 12-inch shadu (clay) murti and the visarjan will be at a local water body. Nothing beats the feeling of doing the visarjan surrounded by so many fellow devotees. And then, the family tradition of eating chaat after visarjan is something I am looking forward to. We are also doing decorations like old days and inviting family and friends home,” says Pune-based Sapna S.

It’s not just about getting Bappa home. Several people also visit native places to celebrate the festival there, just like Mumbai-based homemaker, Neha Patkar. “I am going to visit my in-laws’ place in Pat near Kudal after two years. The celebrations are different there compared to the city. We also have Gauri at home, so along with Bappa, the preparations are on for that as well. All our relatives from Mumbai are visiting after a long time. So it’s kind of family-gathering. The atmosphere is so festive; the feeling is indescribable. The whole village is lit up and it feels just like Diwali,” she exclaims.

Nitin Karekar, a businessman, plans to invite family and friends at his home this year, something he avoided for two years. “It feels like the good old days this year. For two years, honestly, it didn’t feel like Ganeshotsav. We bring an eco-friendly Ganpati idol and, before the pandemic, did the visarjan at Girgaon Chowpatty. However, for the last two years we did it at home due to the restrictions. But this year, the visrajan will be at Chowpatty,” he says.

Echoing similar sentiments is Prasad Pingle, Chairman of Mohan Building Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Mumbai, which is celebrating 100 years. “To say we are all excited for Bappa’s agman (welcome) is an understatement. Since this is the 100th year, we have a lot of cultural activities planned. All the pent-up excitement of the last two years will be let loose this year. We will bring Bappa two days in advance. The visarjan will be at Girgaon Chowpatty, unlike the last two years when we did it at a pond near our building. We are also expecting many devotees to drop by this year since there are no restrictions,” he says.

There has also been a certain shift in people’s attitude towards the festival, since many have gotten used to the changes during the lockdown. Rohit and Sonali Kumar from Navi Mumbai have been bringing Ganpati Bappa home for the last six years. “I book an eco-friendly idol from a local sculptor, buy all the items

required for Ganesh puja, and start the day with a lot of fanfare. After all, his visit to our humble abode is the most awaited event of the year,” says Rohit. Earlier priest did the sthapana, aarti and offer bhog to the deity. But due to Covid, the priest wasn’t able to visit their place and Sonali started doing the puja. “This year too I will preside over the puja. The visarjan happens in the local water body on the second day around evening,” Sonali adds.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, idol-makers have been at the receiving end. After a financial setback, the business is in the recovery mode this year. “There was almost no business in 2020. I couldn’t even sell 500 idols. It was a huge setback. However, things did improve in 2021. This year, I have a booking of almost 1400 idols. But it’s still not like the old days. Today, people who would buy two-feet or three-feet idols have reduced the size because they got used to bringing small idols at home during the pandemic. Some even moved to keeping silver idols. Many have experienced financial problems due to pay cuts or job loss. There have also been deaths in the family, which has deterred people from bringing Bappa home. Nonetheless, I am hoping for an improved situation on all fronts, next year, for everyone,” says Mumbai-based idol-maker Pradeep Maduskar.

Irrespective of the circumstances, it’s a time to enjoy and let Vighnaharta take away all your worries.

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