In a first, you can buy tickets for a VIP darshan of the Ganesh idol at Ganesh Galli, Lalbaug online.
Around 1,000 e-tickets will be available on the website of the organiser, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, for Rs 50 and the VIP darshan will be allowed between 9am and 6pm. The VIP queue will spare devotees the long wait in queues and also give them a chance to take a closer look at the idol. “Our aim is to shorten the queues and give devotees ample time for individual darshans,” said Swapnil Parab, secretary, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal.
The mandal has tied up with two private online vendors to keep a record of the transactions. “The online bookings have opened. Each devotee will have to carry a copy of his e-ticket, which will be checked with our copy at the entrance,” said Siddhesh Korgaonkar, head of the website committee of the mandal.
Along with the VIP darshan, there will be two other queues – one for those who buy a ticket worth Rs 10 at the pandal and the other for free.
Some devotees, however, are unhappy with the idea. “If a mandal discriminates between people on the basis of how much they pay, the celebratory feel of the festival will be lost. The online ticketing system seems like a money-making scheme,” said Sunanda Phulekar, a Parel resident.
Others feel it might help manage the crowds better. “Mandals from Lalbaug draw a lot of people during the 10-day festival. The online ticketing service may help keep a tab on the queue, but cannot be a permanent solution,” said 66-year-old Datta Iswalkar, a resident of Mahalaxmi.
Members of Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, the umbrella organisation of Ganesh mandals, said people have never been charged for darshans. “Darshans have always been for free which is why people don’t mind standing in queues for hours just for ‘mukh-darshan’ (darshan from a distance),” said Suresh Sarnobat, secretary of the samiti.
(HT Photos: Vidya Subramaniam)