The city’s very own Ganesh festival is not just about the beautiful and innovative pandals, and the crowd that throng the streets all night, and the infectious enthusiasm that spreads like wildfires the music also plays an important part, no, not the CDs and the DJs, but the booming beats of the dhol’, in sync with the clapping of the tashe,’ the cymbals.

As the most eagerly-anticipated event of the year nears, youngsters from the various dhol-tashe groups in the city are gearing up for the grand festival with gruelling rehearsals that can be heard right in the heart of the city once the evening approaches.

These rehearsals are offering a piece of their musical skills to the Ganapati mandals which are using these drills as their way of booking dhol-tashe groups for the first, fifth, seventh and final day of the Ganeshotsav. The groups are negotiating fees with interested mandals, with demand for all-women dhol-tasha being at all-time high.

There’s a good response from young girls this year, with several of them joining various dhol-tashe groups. “Till last year, there were about 50 women in our group; this year the number is over 80. There’s a good response from girls,” said Deepak Upadhye, president of the Rudra Pratishthan that has been booked by ten mandals so far. Around 250 members from this group rehearse every evening near Rajaram pool.

Shivgarjana, one of the foremost and by far the largest dhol-tasha group in the city will have over 450 girls and boys participating in this year’s Ganeshotsav. “People will be treated to new variations in taal, dhol-tasha synchronisation based on the traditional baithak lavani on the occasion of Anand Chaturdashi,” said Satyajit Shinde, one of the founder-members of Shivagarjana.

Interestingly, a group of around 60 foreign students in the city has expressed interest in learning dhol-tasha as well as working as volunteers for Shivgarjana, said Shinde. And the demand for this group is rising every year. “We have Ganapati mandals waiting for almost two years for bookings with us, offering a supari’ (advance payment) anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000,” said Shinde.

The number of dhol-tashe groups in the city have increased. At present, more than 25 such groups are operational, including around ten that were formed only this year. Over 400 members from all the branches of Swaroopvardini will present their skills on the dhol,’ taashe,’ zhaanj,’ lezhim,’ tipri,’ bhungar-kaati’ and malakambh’ at the Ganeshotsav processions.

“Around 150 members will also present street plays on themes like proper usage of natural resources and internal security, at various public places in the city throughout Ganeshotsav,” said Dnyanesh Purandare, joint secretary, Swaroopvardini.

According to him, unlike last year’s Ganeshotsav that was largely subdued by the H1N1 flu pandemic, this year, the festive celebrations were much bigger and more colourful. “We will also conduct a short course on Shri Ganapati prana-pratishthapana puja rituals at Parage Chowk near Kamla Nehru hospital in Mangalwar Peth from September 7 to 9 from 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm,” said Purandare.

Members performing on behalf of the Samarth Pratishthan have doubled in number this year. “We have 350 members and bookings from over a dozen Ganapati mandals, a very positive sign as compared to 2009,” said Sanjay Satpute, president, Samarth Pratishthan.

For the first time, around 40 students from Poona Girls’ Blind School in Kothrud, of their own volition and genuine interest, will be trained by this group to play the zhaanj’ at the processions. “The proceeds earned for the Ganeshotsav performances will be used in sponsoring 100 schoolchildren and as donations to an old-age home in Mangaon village near Tamhini,” said Satpute.

However, Shivtej Pathak, that comprises around 100 members, has lessened its charges this year by a few thousand rupees despite offering a new range of taal’ synchronisations on the dhol-tashe to the general public. “No doubt there is increased competition between Ganapati mandals. Most of them are even keen to their own dhol-tashe groups. But we had lowered our rates this year because of the lurking fear of the H1N1 flu, as a result of which the Ganapati mandals get less contributions, that’s why most of them can’t afford our charges,” said Rajesh Ghume, president of Shivtej.

Family members of the group’s volunteers will be provided medical help and other financial assistance through the money made by the group from this year’s Ganeshotsav performances.

Read more: Time for the beat for dhol-tasha groups in the city – Pune – City – The Times of India


  1. Hi Sir,

    I Sanjay Mohol would like to join Dhol Tasha group as I m interested very much.

    I hope u will reply me.

    Thanking you


    Mohol Sanjay