To ensure that thousands of devotees who come to seek blessings of the elephant god also give social issues a serious thought, a number of Ganesh mandals in the city have made special decorations around social themes.
Through the use of photographs, posters and mannequins, often accompanied by light-and-sound shows, mandals are serving as conscience-keepers too.
For instance, Khetwadi Khambata Lane Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has installed a 20-foot tall sculpture featuring a Ganesha idol seated on a model of Earth held by a tree. A six-minute audio plays in the background, warning residents of the dangers of global warming and climate change.
“We used a voiceover artiste who imitated the voice of actor Amitabh Bachchan to attract visitors’ attention,” said Santosh Narkar, one of the organisers of the mandal, adding that visitors have the facility of 250-odd chairs to sit and watch the presentation in peace. However, the eye-catching idol is made of plaster-of-Paris and is a concern, he said. “We will fix that next year,” he added.
On a similar note, Sewree Madhya Vibhag Ganpati Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, has set up a sprawling exhibition to highlight the negative effects of mobile telephony and addiction to technology.
“We wish to alert youngsters. While cell towers are a known health hazard, the increasing engagement with the virtual world is destroying childhood,” said Vijay Hindulkar, a mandal member. Interestingly, a part of the five-minute audio-video show on web abuse features Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “positive use” of social media in his election campaign. “Children must know how the PM used social media to spread his message, ensuring the right use of the Internet,” said Hindulkar.
Corruption is another issue being addressed by the mandals, with Andheri’s Eshwar Tarun Mitra Mandal raising questions about bribery.
Bal Gopal Mitra Mandal, also known as Vile Parlecha Peshwa, is appealing to the youth to take care of their aged parents and not force them into old-age homes. They have used mythological characters such as Shravan Bal, Lord Ram and Bhakt Pundalik as examples. “Our tableau shows fibre-made statues demonstrating the need to respect our parents,” said Vijay Naikude, mandal secretary.