Ganpati immersions in Mumbai largely incident-free although the number of immersions were higher this year

Published : September 23, 2021 10:07 IST

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had organised Ganpati idol collection centres like this all over Mumbai. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Last year, when COVID-19 was at its peak, Maharashtra’s biggest festival, the 19-day Ganeshotsav, was obviously not held. At the time, the State government had appealed to all Ganesh mandals to postpone their celebrations by a year, not knowing that the threat from the coronavirus would still be present. This year, the government again appealed to common sense, asking people not to throng mandals and streets with the usual fervent celebrations.

Most mandals reacted in a mature manner and a decision to restrict the size of the idols to four feet and to allow only cyber darshans was taken. It was also decided that immersion would be done in a regimented manner. Collection centres were set up all over the city by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) where mandal members could deposit their idols. A concession was made for those mandals that kept the idols for 10 days. They were given time slots for their immersion and volunteers employed by the BMC assisted in the immersion. To prevent people spending too much time on the streets, artificial ponds were set up by the BMC for the smaller idols. Only 10 fully vaccinated people per mandal were allowed to carry the idols to the immersion point. BMC statistics say there were 21 per cent more immersions than last year with 1.64 lakh immersions. There were 1.96 lakh immersions in 2019.

The biggest sign of success for the city’s administration was the immersion of Lalbaugcha Raja—a gigantic Ganpati idol that takes about 20 hours from its point of departure from Parel in central Mumbai to its immersion destination in Chowpatty beach, south Mumbai. The Lalbaug Ganpati is always the last to be immersed and while this tradition was followed this year, the journey was completed in about three hours with a live stream organised for believers who could not be present. However, the last day darshan at this Ganpati mandal saw a hundreds of devotees rushing for a physical darshan.

There were some other violations, too, of varying degrees by other mandals. As many as 44 people were booked by the police and 11 first information reports (FIRs) were registered for reasons ranging from gathering in larger numbers than allowed to not wearing masks. The BMC is watching to see if there is a spike in cases, but there is no doubt that the city administration’s planning was largely successful.

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