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Music-makers keep crowds on their feet

As Ganpati idols make their way to pandals , the procession isn’t complete without the rumpus of music troupes. Theirs might not be a welcome sound in residential areas , but for the accompanying crowds , there isn’t a more familiar clarion call to the festivities .

“You need the music , otherwise what is the point ?” says drummer Rajesh Prabhu . “The crowd dances along , and their enthusiasm keeps us going .” For the 45-year-old , the knack of keeping the throngs on their feet has been perfected over two decades . “I was always c u r i o u s ab o u t t h e dholtaashe-walas as a child,” he recalls . “I learnt to play dhols from seniors , and in college , decided to start my own troupe .” The first pandal to hire the greenhorns was the one on Vile Parle‘s Hanuman Road . Prabhu’s childhood friend , Amol Pitale’s family had been organizing sarvajanik Ganpati celebrations there for over 40 years . Assignments at other neighborhood pandals followed, as did those for events in London , Bangkok and New Zealand .

Most pandals have a troupe they favour each year , which includes drummers , keyboard players and bassists .

The lead-up to Ganesh Chaturthi can have a troupe juggling up to three pandals in a day . Multiple assignments are avoided during immersion , says drummer Abhijit Pawar . “When the idols are being brought to their pandals , the organisers try to finish the rituals on time ,” he explains . “During visarjan , there are many delays , and the roads are jammed with traffic .” The festivities are curtailed sooner today than when he first started out, says Prabhu . What has persisted , though , is the series of practice sessions that kicks off about a week prior to the festival .

“We pick songs from current films ,” said keyboardplayer Prasad Varhadkar . “This year , it’s Chennai Express and Anybody Can Dance.” Younger members often update veterans on the recent chart-toppers . But the fail-safe option is always a pacier version of the bhajan .

“The music has more Western beats now ,” says Prabhu , adding that changing tastes have made instruments like keyboards and drums part of the mix .


Ganesh mandals plan disaster management workshop in Mumbai

Following riot-like situation that gripped the city over a week ago, organisers of Ganpati celebrations are making efforts to ensure security for devotees ahead of Ganesh Chhaturti next month.

According to Girish Walawalkar, secretary of Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti (BSGSS), organisers are in talks with the police and BMC to hold a disaster management workshop for mandal workers on September 6 and 7.

“The climate has been tense over the last few days. We have therefore decided to introduce some security measures through this training, which is open for all mandal workers. While the police will hold training in one of their premises, BMC’s disaster-management team will conduct two workshops at its schools in Worli and Vile Parle,” Walawalkar said.

Mahesh Narvekar, chief officer of the disaster-management unit said, “We will impart first-response training to the mandal workers. This includes fire-fighting, CPR, first-aid, and crowd management among other things.

Last year we had held it in Worli – this year, organisers have requested that we hold a workshop in the suburbs as well.”

Walwalkar said given the recent communal climate, the number of trained volunteers, stationed at every mandal, will be beefed up.

“We are planning to post at least 10 ganasevaks in three shifts throughout the day till night at all mandals. Cameras are most likely to placed at the Ganesha mandal in Chowpatty at least,” Walawalkar added.


Two sarvajanik mandals in Mumbai go completely green

Clara Lewis, TNN

Mumbai: A wave of green is steadily making its presence felt this Ganeshotsav. This year, Mumbai will be home to at least two eco-friendly Sarvajanik Ganesh idols-at Vile Parle (E) and Jogeshwari-both made from tissue paper. The idols have been made by sculptor Digambar Mayekar. But he’s not the only sculptor spreading the message of an eco-friendly festival.

At Bhandup, Sainath Keluskar has shipped two idols to Solapur and Nashik. Both Mayekar and Keluskar said that this year, several mandals had approached them with orders for eco-friendly idols, but they had to turn many clients away as the orders were placed too late. “We got requests to make eco-friendly idols a month ago, but work on paper idols begins in December as it requires sunlight. In the monsoon it is not possible to make these idols,” said Mayekar.

For the last three years, the Bal Gopal Mitra Mandal at Vile Parle (E) has been a proponent of “green Ganesha” . This year we have ensured that every part of the idol is eco-friendly , including the paraphernalia,” said Vijay Naikude, secretary of the mandal.



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