For years, Girgaum – the traditional hub of Ganesh festivities – had been slowly losing its sheen compared to the rising popularity of the Lalbaugcha Raja, say residents of the area.
But last year, when Girgaum's KGBD Nivas Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal replaced its regular Plaster of Paris idol with a fibre Ganpati that is never to be immersed, footfalls at their pandal and at those in the vicinity suddenly increased.
This was the city’s first public Ganesh mandal to adopt a permanent eco-friendly idol, and the organisers broke away from an 83-year-old tradition in order to go green. Now in its 85th year, the mandal hopes to draw larger crowds to spread awareness about protecting the environment.
"It was painful to see broken parts of PoP Ganeshas strewn across the beach after immersion," said Avadhut Gawankar, secretary of the mandal comprising 115 families living in the century-old Gaud Brahmin housing colony. "To avoid such disrespect to God, we decided to bring about a change."
Exceeding its usual budget, the mandal spent Rs75,000 on getting a polyester resin fibre Ganpati made by Vijay Khatu, a well-known idol maker in Parel. On the final day of the festival, organisers perform a symbolic immersion at the Girgaum Chowpatty beach by pouring some seawater over the idol’s feet.
“During the year, the idol is kept in a smaller pandal where we worship it every day,” said Gawankar, adding that the idol requires minimal maintenance.
Last year, the mandal received inquiries from visitors keen on imitating them, and also won an award from the Mumbai police for being an 'Adarsh Ganeshotsav Mandal'.