With the state reeling under its worst drought in decades, Thursday’s Gudi Padwa celebrations in the city, which bring in the Maharashtrian New Year, will largely revolve around promoting water conservation and garnering help for the drought-affected.
In Kalachowkie, the message to save water will be spread through loud speakers and posters during the yatra or procession. “We have always focused on social issues, and the drought is the most important issue this year,” said Mangesh Parab, president of the Abhyudayanagar Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. Last year, their theme was ‘save the girl child’.
At Bhatwadi, Ghatkopar, the usually large-scale yatra will be low-key this year, with organisers working to collect funds and food grains for the drought-affected regions in the state. “This year, we have decided to keep celebrations simple as people in the state are suffering from drought, and hence we will not use the rath [chariot that carries the gudi] this time,” said Ram Vilas Chavan, president, Barve Nagar Akhil Bhatwadi Mitra Mandal. “We have asked local traders and shopkeepers to donate food grains, which we will take to the affected regions in the state next week,” he added. The mandal has donated Rs50,000 for the cause.
Every year, the yatras are based on grand themes. At the Girgaum yatra, which sees close to 500 attendees, the theme will be ‘Unity in Diversity’, depicted through traditional attire from across the country. In Lalbaug, the Hindu Navvarsha Shobha Yatra, a group of 83 local mandals, will pay tribute to Swami Vivekanada – whose 150th birth anniversary was observed in January – through posters and photographs.
Apart from Maharashtrians, the Telugu and Kannada communities in the city will also celebrate their New Year, Ugadi, on Thursday, and Manipuris will celebrate their New Year Sajibu Cheiraoba as well.