Big Ganesh pandals in Mumbai prepared for online darshan

Published on Sep 10, 2021 12:31 AM IST

With Covid-19 pandemic casting a damp spell on the festive season, most big Ganpati pandals in Mumbai will go online, making sure devotees are not devoid of a glimpse of the lord.

Devotees carry the idol of Lord Ganesh to a pandal, on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi. (Bhushan Koyande/ HT)
Devotees carry the idol of Lord Ganesh to a pandal, on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi. (Bhushan Koyande/ HT)
ByShreya Bhandary and Neha Tripathi, Mumbai

The usual fanfare and long queues outside Ganpati pandals across the city will be amiss for another year with restrictions on physical darshan. With Covid-19 pandemic casting a damp spell on the festive season, most big pandals will go online, making sure devotees are not devoid of a glimpse of the lord.

Uday Salian, spokesperson of Andhericha Raja, said they have taken special care to avoid people around the deity. “We ensured that the murti was made in our premises so that in no way do people get a chance to get together while welcoming the lord. To add to this, there are no shades made in order to discourage devotees for offline darshan, which is not allowed by the civic body.”

At King’s Circle, the Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal — one of the richest Ganpati mandals in the city — has decided to conduct regular aartis all day long and make the same available for devotees everyday on the mandal’s Facebook page as well as YouTube channel. While live darshan will be on from 7am to 9pm, devotees have also been given the option to book sevas that will be offered to the idol over the next few days.

In keeping with the guidelines by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the famous Lalbaugcha Raja has a four-foot idol this year. Since the 1980’s, the Lalbaugcha Raja has been 14 feet in height. “Before that, the height of the idol varied, increasing gradually over the years,” said Santosh Kambli, the sculptor of Lalbaugcha Raja. Mandal members have allowed only online darshan this year. However, provision has been made for viewing the idol from a distance in case the civic body grants permission midway during the festival.

Balasaheb Kamble, a management committee member of Lalbaghcha Raja, said they are strictly following Covid-19 rules. “We had prepared for darshan as per initial rules, but BMC recently changed the same and allowed only virtual darshan. We have no option but to obey. We will be streaming live darshan throughout the coming 10 days.”

“BMC has made the rules very clear and we would follow the same. Once again all devotees will get a chance to attend pooja virtually at the comfort of their homes,” said RG Bhat, trustee of GSB Seva Mandal. He added that Ganesh seva will be done in a way that devotees can log in any time and perform the pooja at their homes as well. Here also, the organisers have opted for a four-foot idol, which they will submerge in an artificial pond within the complex on the fifth day of visarjan.

Swapnil Parab, secretary, committee of Mumbai Cha Raja — another famous pandal in Parel, said, “We only made provision of online darshan for devotees owing to the latest BMC guidelines.” Expressing concerns over financial issues, he added, “While stall owners are most affected with no offline darshans, organisers are also facing financial issues.”

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