Ganeshotsav celebrations at Shiv Shakti Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandal in Kanjurmarg are different from festivities at other mandals across the city. Three years back, organisers of the 27-year-old mandal decided to give women the authority of managing everything, from decorating the pandal to conducting the daily aarti, a ritual usually performed by men.
“Women participate in every aspect of the festivities. They decorate the pandal, collect donations, select the theme and bring the deity,” said 28-year-old Vaishnavi Joil, who looks after the mandal.
Joil has in the last one-month gathered woman from every home in the locality and has assigned them specific work to make them feel empowered. “Organising them here also makes me better at my office work,” added Joil, who is an engineer handling a team at Wipro.
Even the themes, which these women select, are progressive. The theme this year is to highlight the importance of sex education among teenagers. The mandal has prepared a seven-minute audio-visual that talks about how parents should make an attempt to talk about sex with children rather than children being misinformed via wrong sources. It also talks about the importance of family planning and spread awareness about AIDS.
“There is a tendency among parents to ignore the questions kids ask after they watch a condom ad on TV or hear about sex. The curiosity leads them to their peers, who may not always have the best ways to find answers,” said Sandeep Sarang, secretary of the mandal.
According to Sarang, the response to the initiative has been a mixed one. “People are not openly discussing it, but it is a small effort towards some change,” added Sarang.
Last year, the mandal had education as its theme, and they took up the responsibility of providing education to two girls from the locality by way of donations the mandal received.