If all goes well, the dizzying heights that Ganesh idols reach in the city’s mandals will be a thing of the past.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS) has decided to limit the heights of idols,
along with their seat, to 18 feet this year. This decision was made after taking into account environmental concerns as well as last year’s incident where the 22-foot high idol of the Tejukaya Ganesh mandal fell, damaging the idol badly.
In the city, the average height of idols along with their seats is around 20-25 feet.
Incidentally, this decision marks a u-turn by city’s Ganesh mandals, who had vehemently declined to follow a similar proposal made in 2009 by the then mayor Dr Shubha Raul. Dr Raul had requested the mandals to reduce heights of idols to 12-15 feet, citing environmental concerns. Mandals, however, had snubbed her proposal, leading to even her party, the Shiv Sena, publicly backtracking on the proposal.
However, the Samiti is confident that this time mandals will adhere. “Most of our members have agreed to the idea of restricting the height of idols,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Samiti.
A senior civic official, on request of anonymity said, “We cannot enforce such rules by the stick. In case there are mandals which don’t follow the rule, we will interact with them and make them understand the environmental benefits to the rule.”
However, Ram Khatse, the trustee of the Tejukaya mandal, whose idol-accident necessitated this decision, had doubts about the practicality of the decision. “Our idols alone are not more than 10-12 feet. However, there is a trolley along with the idol’s throne which adds an additional 7-8 feet alone, making the 18-foot rule impractical.”
Mumbai: After the recent blasts in some of the city’s most crowded markets, Ganesh mandals have decided to put security measures high up on their list of priorities this year.
The Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, an umbrella organization with more than 5,000 mandals under its umbrella, has decided to publish an anti- terror manual for all the committees under its purview.
Not only this, the Samiti is planning to seek tips on tackling terror from city cops, in the event that it strikes the city at the festive spots.
“We need to exercise extra caution this year. We have decided to prepare our own set of guidelines to maintain tight security during Ganeshotsav. We will be publishing our own manual of dos and don’ts, to be followed by the mandals,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, secretary of the Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti.
Naresh added that the manual would be distributed to all the mandals in the city. “Let police take care of security outside the mandals. We will take the onus of maintaining security within the mandal premises,” he said.
He added, “The Samiti is also planning to seek training from the Mumbai cops on how to deal with terror, if such a situation arises. We will be meeting with senior officials from the Mumbai police department, and seek their guidance.”
The manual will instruct members of the pandal management to keep their eyes trained for unidentified objects, and to identify suspicious activities in and around the mandals.
“This year we have decided to increase the number of cameras in the area. From the entrance of the mandals to the interiors, cameras will cover every lane, to detect suspicious movement.
The numbers of watchtowers too will be increased this year. We will also be installing other equipment, such as mobile jammers,” said Swapnil Parab, general secretary of the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Mumbai Cha Raja.
Parab added, “A few days ahead of Ganeshotsav, all volunteers will be trained to deal with terror situations,” he said.
By By Devdutt Pattanaik
Where Ganesha, the Elephant God is, there has got to be a story; not one but many. Wherever there is Ganesha, there have to be symbols, temples, rituals, lots of sweets to eat, and last if not the least, lots of mischief. That’s what Devdutt Pattanaik, who writes on myth and mythology, brings alive to us in his latest book, 99 Thoughts on Ganesha.
He’s started with a puzzle about Ganesha’s existence you may not have known about. ‘The image of Ganesha, his rituals and his stories are a kind of mythological puzzle created by our ancestors,’ writes Pattanaik. ‘Through him, they are trying to communicate a profound truth – so the answers are right there in front of us in the form of Ganesha, if we are willing to decode it. If we don’t want to decode, it’s perfectly alright; the image of Ganesha will continue to enrich us.’
And so it does; with the story of his creation. Ganesha was created by Shakti when, ‘she anointed herself with turmeric and oil. When the mixture had soaked her sweat and dried on her skin, she scraped it off and from the rubbings created a child, her son.’ While this story might be well known to Ganesha’s followers, what may not be so well-known is that Vinayaka comes from the words, Vina (without) and Nayaka (the help of a man).What may also not be common knowledge is that ‘Durga, Ganesha’s mother, took a banana plant, wrapped a sari around it and gave it in marriage to Ganesha, because no woman in the world wanted to marry him because of his elephant head!’ It is these interesting facts, detailed in an easy manner, with a contemporary slant that make you want to read on. By now we are into the part called ‘stories’.
One day,the Moon laughed when he saw Ganesha riding on a rat. He found the idea of an elephant-headed, fat god riding a tiny rodent rather amusing. Ganesha didn’t appreciate the Moon god’s laughter and so declared that anyone who looked at the Moon on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada, which is sacred to Ganesha, will suffer bad luck. That is why no one looks at the Moon god on Ganesha Chaturthi! It’s a nugget of information nicely told; just like the tale on the spiritual symbolism of the modaka, the steamed dumpling made of rice flour dough, jaggery and sesame, that follows in the part called Symbols.
‘The modaka is also shaped like an upward pointing triangle, which, in Tantrik art, represents spiritual reality, in contrast to the downward pointing triangle which represents material reality.’ There is more – on the history and wisdom of Ganesh. Sensibly, Pattanaik has kept all the chapters short; no chapter is more than a page long, and has presented all this information – which could otherwise be terribly boring – in a very readable manner. In 99 Thoughts on Ganesha, Pattanaik has developed the retelling of mythology into an art, and it shows.
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Price: Rs 195
Source: Times of India
Setting an example for the city mandals participating in the ongoing Ganeshotsav, two Ganesh mandals in Dhankawadi have jointly installed two Ganpati idols under one mandap. They came together in 2006 by effecting a merger. The Alishan Mitra Mandal and the Akhil Dhankawadi Mandal are today run under the name Akhil Dhankawadi Alishan Mitra Mandal. The venture, they say, has led to lesser noise pollution and minimum road blockage in the area.
The brain behind bringing the two mandals together was of Vikas Chavan, president of the Akhil Dhankawadi Alishan Mitra Mandal. He said that it did not require much convincing . “Both the mandals aim at doing good work and doing it jointly meant more manpower. Today, with over 1,000 mandal members, we can engage in more social activities.” Earlier, there were around 350 and 650 members in the Alishan Mitra Mandal and the Akhil Dhankawadi Mandal, respectively.
Mumbai After seeking to create awareness about swine flu last year, the 12,000-odd Ganesh mandals in the city have now come forward to battle malaria. The mandal owners have requested the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to allow one mandal each in the 227 wards to open a malaria diagnosis camp besides putting up informative posters on the pandal premises and carrying out door-to-door campaigns in slum areas.
They have also vowed to make malaria prevention their theme this year. Some of them have joined the anti-malaria efforts of the civic body. Vikas Ganesh Mandal in the slum area of Sai Vihar in Bhandup has purchased its own fogging machines and has been fumigating the vulnerable areas over the past few months.
The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti, an umbrella organisation of mandals, has sought one civic doctor each for every mandal, where he can consult patients. Samiti president Naresh Dahibawkar said they would put forward their proposals to civic health officials this week. “Ganeshotsav is a popular festival in the city and people from all classes and religious backgrounds visit the mandals. There are a large number of mandals within slum pockets that also happen to be vulnerable areas for contracting malaria. We can use this platform not only to create an awareness about preventive steps but also lend our manpower for fogging purposes.”
Vikas Mandal secretary Abodh Kanjure said they decided to buy a hand-held fogging machine for a little over Rs 20,000 as the mandal area was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. “A lot of people gather in pandals and the chances of the virus spreading are more. We have been regularly fumigating the area.”
The BMC has welcomed the proposal. Additional municipal commissioner (health) Manisha Mhaiskar said the civic body would support the mandals by trying to provide the necessary medical infrastructure. “We will try and provide medicines and other services to the camps,” said Mhaiskar.
Meanwhile, the BMC’s toll-free helpline for disaster management — 108 — received 150 malaria-related calls on its first day. Chief disaster management officer Mahesh Narvekar said doctors from BMC hospitals were being posted to handle queries on 12-hour shifts. “Today, we had doctors from BYL Nair Hospital. They dealt with questions on what symptoms should prompt people to take malaria tests, and what should be the treatment protocol.”
There were also calls alerting the civic body about mosquito-breeding sites. “We assured them that fogging activities would be carried out with immediate effect.”
Source: Indian Express
Mumbai: As the Ganesh festival grows bigger and bigger, so do security and environmental concerns. This year, 2,500 new mandals have signed up, meaning not only that more roads will be dug up but also that better infrastructure must be put in place for the new idols.
From 8,200 mandals in 2007 and 9,500 next year, the total is now up to almost 12,000. Citizens are worrying about the fact that the BMC has decided to do away with a deposit from mandals to ensure holes dug up are filled after the festival.
Last year, each mandal deposited Rs 2,000 with the BMC and were supposed to get it back after the festival, if they had filled the potholes they had dug on the road. Following opposition from mandals, the civic body has decided to scrap the system. Members alleged that last year, the BMC failed to pay back over Rs 3 lakh to over 50 mandals who had repaired the roads. “If we find mandals not filling the potholes, we will revoke their licence and they will not be able to set up a mandal next year,” said additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta.
The festival is from September 11 to 22. Mandals will now be able to register online through the BMC’s website.
“A number of new housing societies have come at the ends of the suburbs and they have sought individual mandals. The number of new registrations is set to rise further by August 28, the last day for new mandals to approach us for membership and licences,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Brihanmumbai Sarvjanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti.
A civic official said the additional number of mandals is not just a security concern but also an environmental hazard. “More mandals mean more noise pollution and more waste discharged into the sea during visarjan. It is also a huge security concern since the police are already overburdened,” said the official.
Source: Indian Express
For the Ganeshotsav celebrations this year, the Sahyadri Krida Mandal of Tilak Nagar, Chembur, is erecting an exact replica of Hampi’s historical Vitthala temple for the astronomical sum of Rs2 crore — a record.
The mandal has always been in the news for two reasons: its elaborate pandals and its clandestine funding by underworld don Chhota Rajan — though the organisers deny this.
To meet the September 11 Ganeshotsav deadline, more than 300 workers, including engineers, architects, tracers and carpenters, are doing double shifts. When ready, the replica will be 130 feet long, 40 feet wide and 35 feet high, and will be housed in the colony’s community hall.
The Vitthala temple — Vitthala is an avatar of Vishnu — is the most ornate of the temples in Hampi, which is near Hospet in Karnataka. The temple was constructed in the 15th century. Its front portion consists of a huge mahamandapam (pillared hall).
The pedestal has friezes depicting swans, horses and warriors. The flight of steps on the east of the hall is bordered by an elephant handrail.
Remarkably, all these details will be incorporated in the Tilak Nagar replica, which is being supervised by Rashid Rangrez, a winner of the National Film Award for Best Art Direction for the film Waris Shah.
“I spent more than two months along with my team of experts at Hampi to study the structural dimensions and other architectural peculiarities of the temple,” Rangrez told DNA. “We prepared drawings of the motifs and studied the symmetric dimensions to prepare the final design.”
The cost of the project was not divulged by the people concerned, but experts said it would easily be well over Rs2 crore.
“Work starts at 7am and goes on till 9pm – practically a double shift. Even if a worker is paid Rs400 a day, multiply that by 60 (the number of days it is likely to take for the replica to be put up) and just the wage bill comes to a staggering Rs72 lakh,” said a labour contractor associated with the film industry.
Another expert said: “The materials — wood, moulds, iron, plaster of Paris, cement, sand, paint, bricks, etc — are very expensive. The cost of procuring them would well be over a crore.”
The BMC has informed the Genesh mandals that if they do not repair the roads that are dug up to erect pandals for the festival, they would have to pay for it the next year.
Not only that, the civic body would also put photographs of the erring mandals on its website.
In a meeting with mayor Shraddha Jadhav on Tuesday, theGaneshotsav Samanvay Samitee urged her to waive the deposit of Rs2,000 which the ward offices charge on mandals for damaging roads.
Following the mayor’s direction, the civic administration agreed to waive it off on the condition that the mandals repair the damaged roads after the festival. If they fail, they would not get permission to erect pandals the next year.
“We will check whether they repair the roads or not. We will also ask the ward offices to take their photographs. If they don’t repair, we will fine them next year,” said Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to be clueless about the status of silence zones in the city. When Ganapati mandals sought information on the status of silence zones, the BMC officials said they will seek information first and then get back to them. “There were about 142 silence zones earmarked in Mumbai. In 2009, the high court had asked the state to set up a committee, including the BMC commissioner, state chief secretary and other senior officials to review silence zones. So we asked the BMC what was the status. Should we hold the 142 silence zones valid or are there any new guidelines?” Naresh Dahibaokar of the Ganesh Mandal Co-ordination Committee said.
“The BMC will have to check the status,” Additional Commissioner Aseem Gupta replied. “We are not clear if we should go with the existing list or does the committee have new recommendations. Police will take action against us for violation so we need to be careful,” Dahibaokar said.
The BMC has also decided to waive off the security deposit taken from each Ganpati mandal and has told the mandals to level up roads that are dug up to erect makeshift platforms for the deity. If they fail to do so then they will not get permission next year.
“Each Ganapati mandal pays Rs 2,000 to the BMC as security deposit for the damages that it may incur during the 10-day festival. This year the sum has been waived off, but the mandal should be responsible to restore the road once the stage is dismantled,” he said. Gupta said the BMC has also started the process of online registration for Ganapati mandals on its website.
Ganapati mandals have given August 15 as the deadline to fill the potholes, which lead to the Ganesh mandals. “We will do our best. However, it will be difficult to meet the deadline if it rains,” Additional Commissioner Aseem Gupta said.
The decision was taken in a meeting on Ganpati preparations at the civic headquarters. Just as there are civic rewards for mandals that put up the best show while following all the rules and regulations, there should be punishment for those flouting the norms, an official said. “When we can appreciate the best, why should not we punish and shame who leave our roads littered? This is the only way to teach the mandals a lesson as they choose to ignore repeated warnings every year,” said a senior civic official.
The city has nearly 1,055 small and big mandals that erect pandals on roads and footpaths after paying a mandatory amount as deposit. The rules allow BMC to forfeit the amount if the mandals do not follow the norms. “Every year, we forfeit their deposit money and yet, we find the roads littered and dug up. The mandals have to start taking responsibility for their actions,” said Kishor Kshirsagar, deputy municipal commissioner, Zone I.
The BMC spends between Rs 3 crore and Rs 5 crore to repair roads so that the Ganpati processions are not inconvenienced. As a preventive measure, this year, the civic body has also decided to charge mandals Rs 500 more as penalty for the holes they dig on roads.
The mandal representatives, however, think that the roads remain in a bad condition due to the BMC’s own fault. “The civic body has itself to blame for the holes on the roads. Last year, it collected Rs 4 lakh as fine from 50 mandals across the city for damaging roads. But the condition of those streets still remained the same,” said a mandal organiser.