MUMBAI: Dhol tasha, large gatherings, dance performances, pandal visits — these are a couple of things that automatically come to our mind when we talk about Ganesh Chaturthi, but celebrations have taken a 360-degree turn ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Like last year, this year too, many states, especially Maharashtra are going to witness low-key Ganesh Utsav due to the fear of the rise in cases.
In fact, the Maharashtra government has banned physical darshan by devotees at Ganpati mandaps across the state. Only online telecasts from pandals would be allowed. Such restrictions have dampened the festive spirits, especially for those who made a living out of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.
Vinayakh, head of Sankalp Dhol Tasha Pathak, told ANI about the impact of COVID-19 on their business and how much they miss performing during the festive time.
“We are not playing this time as well. My band members are vaccinated but we can’t take a risk. Also, the government has not given us permission to do roadshows. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to perform during Ganesh Chathurthi. Ek alag hi feel hoti hai is time pe..dukh lagta hai ki hum aise mauke pe sab milke celebrate nahi kar sakte. We all used to rehearse for months before the start of Ganesh Chaturthi and now we have not even done a single rehearsal,” he said.
Vinayakh added, “We store our instruments in a warehouse. We have over 100 dhols there… due to hardly any earnings amid the pandemic we had to pay the rent out of our own pocket. I hope the situation becomes normal as soon as possible.”
Ganesha idols manufacturer Abhinav is also sailing in the same boat.
Explaining how COVID has taken a toll on the sale of Ganpati murtis, he shared, “There is only 10 per cent sale of Ganesha idols manufactured by me. In the wake of the third wave of COVID, people have stopped going to shops. So we are also not making Ganesha idols in bulk this time. The customer footfall has massively decreased.”
Also, as per the Maharashtra government, the height of the idols in public celebrations has been restricted to four feet while those in homes have been limited to two feet, which is eventually acting as a hindrance in idol makers’ business.
“We can’t make bigger idols this time…we used to earn good profits by selling bigger idols… so all these restrictions have undoubtedly affected our business,” Abhinav added.
Coming back to pandals, Rahul Walanj, president of Sahyadri Krida Mandal, gave us a sneak peek of their preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi this time.
“We will celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi at a smaller level. Only people from our team will be present at the mandal and for the public, we will avail the facility of online darshan. We brought Ganesh idol of 7 feet last year.. this time we have decreased the size…We have also decided not to immerse the Ganesha idol at Dadar Chowpatty…we will immerse it in our office premises only,” Rahul said.
While COVID-19 has definitely changed how we celebrate most of the festivals including Ganesh Chaturthi, people are still finding different ways to mark the occasion with pomp and zeal amid the new normal. (ANI)