“Symbol of community harmony”, Bhiwandi Ganesh mandal will miss the festivities this year

Even as the state prepares to celebrate the Ganesh festival after a two-year lull caused by a pandemic, a Ganpati mandal from Kongaon region in Bhiwandi has decided to miss the event this year due to financial constraints.

The move by Dream Complex Ganesh Utsav Mandal, known for its 17-year-old community harmony tradition, raised some eyebrows. However, according to the organizing committee, the expenses, which are expected to be more than double what they were before the pandemic, are beyond its capacity, especially with scarce donations. On Sunday, the committee informed the local police of its decision through a letter.

“It has become difficult for local businesses, merchants and residents to donate to the festival this year while struggling to manage finances. Thanks to the pandemic-induced crisis, donor funding has also been affected. At the same time, the expenses to manage the festival are exploding. Aware of the constraints, it has been decided to put the festivities on hold until they are financially viable again,” reads the letter submitted to Kongaon Police Station in Saravli, Bhiwandi, by the organizing committee. of the Dream Complex Ganesh Utsav Mandal.

In 2016, Thane police awarded this Ganesh Mandal, owned by a residential society, for promoting community harmony. “The region is dominated by the Muslim community. But that has never limited the fervor with which the Ganpati festival is celebrated here. In fact, this Mandal was launched in 2003 by developer Ishad Khan. Since then, this Mandal has a new identity of Ganpati festival organized by Hindu-Muslim residents of the locality. Even the Mandal organizing committee has several members of the Muslim community,” said Siddharth Kamble, a local resident and adviser to the organizing committee.

Kamble said the cost of setting up the pandal, which used to be around Rs 3,000, has now doubled. “Besides that, providing pooja (worship) of the idol costs Rs 2,000 every day. We also have CCTV surveillance, which also increases the cost. The overall expense amounts to more than Rs 1 lakh, which is difficult for us to cope with at the moment,” Kamble said, further explaining how Covid relief activities over the past two years have dried up. Mandal funds.

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Ahmed Patel, chairman of the committee, said: “Finances are a major issue. The locality has mostly middle-class families who are struggling financially anyway. At present, where it has become difficult to spend money on children’s education and overall survival, there are not many hands that come up for festival donations. If we receive donations, we would be more than happy to celebrate the festival, which is an old tradition in the region and will certainly be missed by all the locals.

James V. Hayes