Every year, the Tardeo Police Camp Mandal attracts up to 120 visitors a day. This year, however, the organisers plan to keep things quieter.
“Because of the July 13 blasts, we thought it was better to keep things toned down,” said Hemant Gawkar, the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal’s secretary.
The Tardeo Police Camp Mandal, tucked in the center of a housing colony for the police, has had its own Ganesh pandal since 1976, when a group of residents decided to start their own neighbourhood festivities. Each of the 13 buildings in the colony takes on the responsibility for conducting the puja on an annual rotational basis.
Running parallel with the festival are neighbourhood health camps, children’s competitions, felicitations and public awareness programmes. The idol, commissioned to a new murtikar (idol maker) this year, will only arrive three days before festivities begin. The Ganpati itself will be seated on a throne, as it has been every year. “It’s not nice to keep a guest standing for so many days,” said Jayant Sawant, the Mandal’s president.“We aren’t concerned about competing with other mandals, or creating a business in the area or attracting crowds,” said Kishor Parab, vice-president of the Mandal.
Besides, the costs of the mandal have been increasing each year, with the committee anticipating a Rs 2.5 lakh expenditure this year, around Rs 80,000 more than the last.
The residents though, know exactly what they will be praying for when the festival arrives this year. “As policemen we have so many problems, but if we come here we get peace of mind,” said one resident of the colony. “God gives us strength and peace, so we have no demands for him,” he said. “All our demands are from the government.” he added.
As Manu Gamya, 42, and his three daughters sat near a tree in the compound of the Tardeo Police camp near Mumbai Central, they watched the labourers bring down an old roof and put up a new one for this season’s Ganesh mandal.
Gamya hopes his family too, can have a better roof above their heads this year. “We will pray to the lord to fulfil our hopes of a better home, better facilities,” said Gamya, a vendor who lives nearby.