She has a swollen cheek, a toothache and a husband down with jaundice. He has an ailing mother and a brother coping with paralysis.
But these were no obstacles for Chhaya Thakkar (44) and Jitu Kadam (23), who made their annual pilgrimage to the Lalbaugcha Raja pandal on Wednesday with even more hope than before.
The two joined the mannat line [for people praying for specific things] at 10 pm on Tuesday night. From then on, it was a slow, crowded, hungry wait in the large makeshift tent. The journey ended only 15 hours later.
“I am tired, but I know this is worth it,” said Thakkar, a homemaker from Ghatkopar whose faith in the city’s most visited Ganpati has strengthened after five years of having her prayers answered. “There was nothing much to do except pray for a chance to make my wish smoothly.”
Kadam [he refused to be photographed], a service staff member at a luxury hotel, said he skipped work to wish for his brother’s quick recovery. “He was a healthy student before he was hit by a sudden paralytic stroke last year,” said the Mumbai Central resident.
With an hour to go for the darshan, ‘queue friends’ Thakkar and Kadam talked about the facilities. “We were given tea and wadas, but otherwise we haven’t eaten all night,” said Thakkar.
Close to 1 pm, the duo was a few steps away from the pandal stage, with Thakkar holding the end of her sari over her aching tooth. But the moment the idol came into view, the pain and exhaustion transformed into awe, excitement and tears of relief.
Numb to the jostling, both offered flowers and coconuts. Emerging from the pandal with vermilion on his forehead, Kadam said: “I actually laid my head at His foot. It felt like I had conquered the world!”