By: Chetna Yerunkar

Organisation training the young priests says it has received nearly 200 requests from families in the last month alone

A shortage of priests in the city there are only 4,000 priests for 12,000 Ganpati mandals and 1.8 lakh households has led to a sudden spike in demand for first-time teen priests.

Kailash Kadam, a trainer who teaches children above the age of 13 to become priests, says he has received 200 requests in the past month alone.

MiD DAY had reported last month (‘Teenage priests for Ganesh puja‘, July 13) how Kadam and the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti (BSGSS) were training the children with the upcoming Ganeshotsav in mind.

“Nearly 200 people who keep Ganpati idols in their houses have requested that the young priests perform pooja for them as they face a problem in getting priests on the first day of Ganeshotsav every year. The demand is increasing every passing day,” said Kadam.

The Siddhivinayak Temple Trust has also decided to chip in from next year. Subhash Mayekar, chairman, Siddhivinayak Temple Trust, said, “Members of the BSGSS approached us as they were facing a shortage of space to train the kids and we readily extended a helping hand.

We will also give the children special guidance by asking our temple’s priests to teach them all the shlokas.”

BSGSS President Naresh Dahibavkar said, “We will continue this drive jointly with the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust to ensure that there are enough priests to meet the people’s demand by next year.”

Locality only

Keeping travel difficulties and the kids’ interest in mind, the BSGSS is, however, very clear on not allowing the children to go far away from their area of residence for poojas.

This year, the new priests will start their day by doing Ganesh pooja in their own houses, then perform poojas for their neighbours and follow it up with a ceremony in a small neighbourhood mandal.

“Only if they get time after this will they honour requests from the people who have approached us, provided they stay near the kids’ houses,” said Kadam.