Ganesh mandals have good reason to seek divine help with the mosquito menace in the city. Half the men who shape the Ganesha idols have been struck down by malaria.
Ganpati idol maker Manohar Bagwe says he will have to work twice as hard this year to ensure the idols are ready for devotees in time.
Most of his workforce is down with malaria.
The clay and plaster of Paris strewn around and inevitable pools of stagnant water around the workshops, make them ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This year, a number of idol makers are suffering its effects.
“The situation was not as bad with swine flu last year. But, this time malaria has put a big strain on all of us,” Bagwe said.
Three of his artisans at their Lalbaug workshop have left for their hometowns after contracting malaria, while five more are still recovering in hospitals or at home. “We cannot afford to delay deliveries, so we are very worried,” Bagwe said.
A few blocks down the road, one of the busiest idol makers in the city has the same woes. “The BMC comes to fumigate our workshops, but it hasn’t stopped the mosquitoes,” said Ramesh Rawle, who says eight of his 20 workers have “escaped” to their villages due to malaria.
Taking note of the problem, the Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti has instructed all pandals in the city to spread awareness about malaria through their Ganesh themes.
“Also, when mandal workers go door-to-door in their areas to collect funds, they can also help each family access medical aid and helpline numbers,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Samiti.