Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav cancelled in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

Though some organizations have shown dismay over the decision, the Mandal has said that the decision has been taken for the safety of the people


For the first time in its history of 86 years, the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has decided to not hold festivities keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic. The Lalbaugcha Raja Trust has said that it will instead hold an ‘Aarogya Utsav’ by organizing a blood donation and plasma therapy camp to support the fight against the pandemic.



Displaying religious responsibility, the Secretary of the Mandal, Sudhir Sitaram Salvi told reporters, “During the Aarogya Utsav, we shall have 11 days of blood and plasma donation camps, help families of soldiers martyred in the recent India-China border skirmish, Maharashtra police personnel who lost their loves in the ongoing war against the virus and other Covid-19 warriors.” The Mandal has also decided to donate Rs. 25 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as Covid-19 aid, Salvi added.

The Mandal has already been conducting social activities and most recently during the pandemic started the ‘Janata Clinic’ for free medical check-ups and the distribution of free medicines and counselling to local residents.



Last week, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had appealed to all Ganeshotsav Mandals in the state to voluntarily restrict the height of Ganesh idols to less than four feet so that there no crowds during immersion ceremonies take place. A majority of the Mandals accepted his request and decided to have quiet festivities with no processions and no immersion ceremonies.

The Lalbaugcha Raja has one of the tallest idols of Lord Ganesh – 15-feet and the Mandal had started in 1934, two-years after local fishermen and street vendors living in the Peru chawl tried to convince their landlord Rajabai Tayyabali to set aside a plot to build a permanent market, The Indian Express reported. Since then, residents have been worshipping Lord Ganesha, who has gained the reputation of the God who grants wishes to the faithful. In 2019, it was said to have attracted 1.25 crore devotees and garnered offerings upto Rs. 9 crore. Last year, an unidentified devotee also offered a gold dining set, approximately worth Rs. 50 lakhs to Lord.

Santosh Kambli of Kambli Arts, who has been designing the idol for four generations, told The Indian Express that the decision of letting the year pass without festivities was taken with a heavy heart but it was for the people’s wellbeing. Even with the Covid-19 lockdown in place, the Mandal’s authorities believe it may be difficult to stop worshippers from coming to pay obeisance to the idol.

However, while many have lauded the decision of the Mandal, some have said that the Mandal could set a precedent for others by carrying out the festivities in adherence with the state guidelines.

Saying that the 87-year-old tradition should not be broken, BJP MP from Bandra West, Mumbai said, “The crisis is great, so faith is the only hope for the common man. Even online darshan of Raja in times of crisis can bring relief to Ganesha devotees!”



While other famous Mandals like the Chinchpokli, Kala Chowkie, Byculla, Girgaum, Kurla and Ganesh Galli mandals are set to ahead with the celebrations in accordance with the state mandated rules, including the capping of the height of the idol, the GSB Ganesh Samiti has made plans to hold the festival in February next year, to coincide with the Magh Ganesh Utsav, The Times of India reported.

The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti also requested the Lalbaugcha Raja Trust to not break its tradition and alleged that in the month of Ramadan, there were large crowds everywhere. They also said that the traditions for the Jagannath Rath Yatra and the Pandharichi Wari were not broken, adding that while all temples were closed to the public, the offering of prayers hadn’t stopped. They insisted that while measures could be taken to avoid crowds, devotees couldn’t be deprived of the God’s blessings. They also said that the Mandal could arrange for online live viewing of the idol or install a small idol and ensure social distancing at the pandal, but not forgo the tradition completely.



The Akhil Maharashtra Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mahasangh also supported the call for the tradition to be maintained as opposed to the support of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanway Samiti, who backed the Lalbaugcha Raja Trust’s decision.

During the pandemic, mosques, churches and some temples had taken their services online as large congregations were threats to the lives of people. While there may be opposing opinions in response to the Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal’s decision, it can be said that it is a bold move and an exemplary precedent adding to the many such efforts of different communities in mind keeping in mind the larger picture.

Aniket Singh, a member of the Core Committee, Ganesh Galli told Sabrang India, “We are going ahead with celebrations in a confined manner. We are the mandal which started the tradition of having the tallest Ganesh idol and for the past 44 years, we’ve been enthroning a Ganesh idol of upto 22 feet. But this year, we’ve decided to go ahead with a three feet tall Ganesh idol. Every year we create life sized replicas of pilgrim destinations, but this year we will not be doing that. Instead, we have invested efforts in other community services like conducting a blood donation drive, undertaking sanitization drives and distribution of food grains in the locality.”

Speaking about how they plan to adhere to social distancing norms, he said, “We have requested people to not visit the pandal as we will be telecasting the puja and live darshan on YouTube and Instagram. We have also tied up with a local cable operator to telecast the Ganesh aarti. Every year, we keep the darshan open for 24 hours, but this time we may go ahead with constrained timings for a couple of hours in the morning and evening so that we limit the exposure. Local residents also have a card given by us on which they can come to visit the pandal. All during this time, we will ensure social distancing and sanitization norms. So, while we celebrate, it will not be on a large-scale, but will be for the people living close-by who’ve been our members for the last 93 years.”

In response to the decision taken by the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Singh said, “Lalbaugcha Raja has a very large mass appeal, which is undeniable. So no matter how small or confined they try to keep the festivities, they will still attract a large crowd. So their decision is only fair and understandable.”


Puri Rath Yatra: SC imposes curfew, strict conditions for conduct of festivities

Kanwar Yatra cancelled, but will devotees stay home?

Eid Mubarak: Prayers and celebrations go online in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Pray at home: Mosques urge citizens to offer namaaz at home on Eid



Related Articles