In the bustling Irla market lane, it is hard to miss the Ganpati pandal erected on the sidewalk. The pandal not only gets religious communities together but is also a source of revenue for local businessmen.
“A lot of people visit the Ganpati pandal and our business goes up by almost 10% during the festival,” said Rafiq Ismail, owner of an electronics store in Irla.
Shop owners help the organisers with donations and guide traffic and visitors during the festival. Even stall owners who need to relocate to accommodate the pandal don’t mind the inconvenience. “We move stalls somewhere nearby for 10 days,” said Paresh Rode, a stall owner.
However, this year, the mandal will miss its regular set of visitors, who attend novena prayers at the church during Mother Mary’s feast. The two festivities, which have coincided for the past few years, were two weeks apart this year.
One of the unique features of this mandal is that the organisers have worked on the pandal only at night, as the number of shoppers and vehicles on the narrow street during the day makes it difficult to work. “Unlike other mandals, we also dismantle the pandal on the day of the visarjan,” said Prakash Kharvi, a committee member of Irla Mitra Mandal, which has been handling the Ganpati pandal for the last 32 years.
Another tradition at Mitra Mandal is to allow a different set of organisers to decorate the pandal and make the necessary arrangements, every three years.
The Irla Market Ganpati is shorter by two feet this year. “An 11-foot-tall Ganpati was difficult to handle during visarjan last year,” said Kharvi. The mandal has not sought insurance for the event so they cannot afford any untoward incidents.
The mandal gets collections of up to Rs. 60,000 every year. Although a relatively small pandal, it has drawn personalities such as politician Gopinath Munde and television actress Smriti Irani.