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Donations pour in for mandals

Halfway through the festival, some of the city’s biggest Ganesh mandals are racing towards, some even past, the Rs 1 crore-mark for donations, in cash and in kind. Kasturi Bagwe reports.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2009 00:36 IST
Kasturi Bagwe

When it comes to making an offering to the city’s favourite deity, there’s no such thing as too much.

Halfway through the festival, some of the city’s biggest Ganesh mandals are racing towards, some even past, the Rs 1 crore-mark for donations, in cash and in kind.

Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, the city’s largest Ganesh Chaturthi crowd puller, has registered around Rs 1.25 crore in collections in its first five days of the annual 10-day festival.

The Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal, which decorates its idol with over 250 kg of gold every year, collected
Rs 87 lakh from 36,000 pujas performed in five days.

Ganesh Gallicha Raja, which is housed in a replica of the revered Kedarnath temple, collected Rs 30 lakh in donations and offerings.

Devotees also offer gold and silver crowns, bangles, armlets and other jewellery.

“This year we’ve so far got five gold biscuits weighing 100 g each, and around four silver crowns for Ganesh,” said Pradeep Jadhav, president of Ganesh Galli Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, which got Rs 40 lakh as donations in cash in the first five days.

The GSB Mandal’s generous collection of jewellery received as offerings includes two armlets weighing 500 gm each, two traditional Maharashtrian bangles of 500 gm each and a 5.5-inch ‘Seshnag’ weighing 500 gm.

The mandals say they use the money received for charitable purposes.

“Every year, we auction all the jewellery after the immersion,” said Satish Khankar, president of the Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal.

“We spend Rs 2.5 - 3 crore to sponsor the education of children in government schools. We also fund the treatment of deserving patients in government hospitals.”

While the collections go to social causes, a large chunk of the mandals’ decorations is sponsored by corporates. Lalbaugcha Raja gets sponsorships worth Rs 20-25 lakh.

“Every year, before the festival begins, we start our search for sponsors. We give them a breakup of the activities we plan to complete for the year, after which they decide on their level of involvement,” said Satish Naik, president of the GSB Mandal.

“The sponsorships range between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh.”

GSB Mandal is the only major mandal that gives its sponsors a Section 80G certificate, which allows the sponsors to claim a 50 per cent tax deduction on the amount.