Your Samiti issued a dress code late last month, banning shorts and all skirts above the knee at your pandal this year. What made you issue such a code?
We are the first mandal in Mumbai to do so and we are proud of that. This was one of three decisions taken at our annual general meeting this year. The other two are that we will not use plastic bags for prasad and we will not accept sponsorships or banners of tobacco products.
Why did you feel the need for a dress code?
Every year, lakhs of devotees of all ages visit our pandal. Hundreds of middle-aged and elderly devotees have told us that our festival is beautiful but the atmosphere is spoiled by youngsters in short dresses. That’s not the way to dress when you go to a religious place. We felt we should maintain a certain pious atmosphere.
The dress code seems to be for girls and women, not for men. That is not the case. Even boys or men in shorts will be barred from entering.
Don’t you think laying down dress codes is a little harsh?
You have to understand, we are not saying that you should not wear such clothes to hangouts and pubs. You may wear whatever you want to those places. But when you come here for Ganesh darshan, don’t come in such clothes.
Is this a request or your rule?
Well, we have made this request to all through the media, but when we begin to implement it, it will be our rule. There’s another aspect to this — when people dressed in minis and short dresses wait in queue for darshan, it leads to eve-teasing and comments, which also we want to avoid.
What if an ardent devotee has travelled a long distance but is dressed in a short skirt or shorts?
No one in such clothes will be allowed entry. We are considering keeping some alternative clothes at hand so people can change and take darshan. We will decide on this soon.