It’s no child’ play for these young minds in the city
City children have been trying to bring about an ecofriendly and positive change in mandals across the city, this Ganeshotsav.Updated: Sep 02, 2017 10:53 IST
Setting up a Ganesh mandal, preparing for the arrival of Bappa and coordinating functions during the eleven-day festival is no child’s play. However, there are many mandals in the city that have active members between the age of four and 16. These young minds shell out their maximum to help their respective mandals with their proceedings. Vicky Thapa, one of the senior members at Bal Navyug Mitra Mandal, Law College Road shares, “The kids are the ones who made us adapt the newer ways, be it eco-friendly changes or technology changes. They insisted that we shift to an eco-friendly idol, do not let us play loud music and do not let us burn many crackers. They have literally given us a list of things to do and not to do. We initially had certain members oppose this, however, eventually everyone agreed as it was for a good cause.” Similarly, many other city mandals have made relevant changes in their ways according to certain suggestions from kids. HT came across four such mandals where the younger generation is involved right from the planning stage to the immersion process.
1. Bal Navyug Mitra Mandal, Law College Road
It is 8.30 am. Karan Jogawade (12) and Prathamesh Ghatge (8) are setting up the decor and place for the morning aarati. The duo has been voluntarily doing this for the past five years now. Karan shares, “I started helping out when I was seven years old. Bappa is definitely one of my most favourite deities. He is like a friend and for these 11 days, I feel like my friend has come over to stay with me. I make it a point to be there for both the aaratis and spend as much time possible here.”
Prathamesh (8) is on duty to ensure the attire on Bappa is a new one everyday. “We have a group of older boys who help in collecting the donation and do the more physically-straining work. We help in the mandal proceedings by ensuring cleanliness, distribution of prasad and inviting people for the aarati,” adds Prathamesh.
Formed in 2000, the Mandal has always had kids play an important role. Swapnil Shigwan (19) has been associated with the mandal since childhood. “We are all one community and make sure everyone is involved in the process of welcoming Bappa. The older boys like me guide and help the younger lot. This way, they learn the various festivities and grow up to enjoy the festival even more. The young boys also insisted on having an eco-friendly idol and we agreed to bring it. We are happy to make such positive changes.”
2. Shri Gajanan Mitra Mandal, Prabhat Road
Divyankush Hagawane is busy taking selfies with his brother Dhanush and friends Arya Sawant and Sharanya with the Ganesh idol. All of them are in the age bracket of seven and nine years. Divyankush has an idol at home too, however he shuttles his time between the colony mandal and his home. “I eagerly await Ganeshotsav every year. It is one of the best festivals. I like the fact that we all get together and do something. This year, we kept the decoration simple and eco-friendly. We requested the elders to avoid noise pollution too. Once in a while, we do play songs and dance, but it is in moderation,” says Divyankush.
The older members do not interfere much when the children are planning. He adds, “They listen to us and help us with our initiatives as they also started out young like us. Most importantly, they are aware of what is good and bad. We just suggest changes if required.”
These kids are well aware of the ill-effects of pollution on the environment and have been convincing people in their locality to go eco-friendly.
They have also learnt the art of balancing school and celebrations efficiently. “I have divided my day to fit in time for the colony mandal, home Bappa and my school. It is all about time management. And above all, where there is a will there is a way.”
3. Raj Mitra Mandal, Paud Road
Young boys and girls aged between nine and 21 are the brains behind the decor, set-up and events of Raj Mitra Mandal.
Yash Ingulkar and Chirayush Shinde are actively involved in the decor, cleaning and setting up of the mandal. Yash says, “I make it a point to wake up early and come down to arrange everything for the aarati. I have learnt all the prayers by heart too. I have also been given the charge to clean the idol everyday.”
While Yash handles the idol in the mandal, Chirayush takes care of the temple aarati. “We divide work among ourselves. This year, we insisted on plastic flowers for decoration so that we could reuse them every year. This way, the nirmalaya will not be thrown in the river. It is up to us kids to be responsible and create awareness.”
Yash adds that the group sits together and plans events, programmes and even the prasad for the next day. “We requested each home to take responsibility of offering prasad to Bappa. One of us then goes around picking it up before the aarati. Older members consider our decisions and make us feel important. Working in a group teaches us compassion and sharing.”
The vibe during Ganeshotsav is so positive and pleasant that one just can’t stay away from these festivities. It is heartwarming to watch the younger lot bring in the same passion and energy like everyone else.
4. Shree Ganesh Mitra Mandal
Aditya Shinde is as old as his Mandal at Sutarwada and at his call, several young boys and girls gather around the mandal. “We have a code word to gather around here,” Aditya tells us. The young group, with the help of the older boys, organised various cultural events in their lane. A newbie to the mandal, Aditya tried his best to put up a good show this year. “There was nothing fancy but we made sure our idol is eco-friendly and that there is minimum usage of non-biodegradable products for decorations. Also, we have bought decorations that can be reused for many more years. We are also trying to minimise noise pollution. Hence, we do not have speakers blasting inappropriate songs. The songs are always devotional and soothing.
The other kids with Aditya have also taken it upon themselves to spread awareness on water conservation and other related issues during Ganeshotsav. They go around speaking to neighbours on the ill-effects of wasting water, throwing garbage inappropriately and other environment related problems that could arise during Ganeshotsav.