Coronavirus: In a first, Mumbai's Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh festivities canceled
Mumbai's Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the biggest crowd-pullers during the 11-day-long Ganesh Utsav. Devotees line up for hours to get one look of the giant idol installed inside a grand pandal. But this year, the celebrations have been canceled in view of coronavirus pandemic. The organizers will arrange a blood donation and plasma therapy camp instead. Here are more details.
The history of Lalbaugcha Raja explains why this particular idol, among a hundred others in Mumbai, is the most revered. In 1932, when the marketplace at Peru Chawl was shut, local fishermen and traders prayed to Lord Ganesha to give them a place. After consistent efforts from local bodies, landlord Rajabai Tayyabali handed over a plot for the market's construction.
After their wishes were fulfilled, the traders established the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. The first idol was installed in 1934, and the tradition has been continuing since. The event organized for idol's unveiling is relentlessly covered by media. The idol, usually more than 12 feet tall, is immersed in the Arabian Sea at the end of the festival. The visarjan is equally grand.
Considering how the deadly disease has ripped Mumbai apart, the organizers will not indulge in celebrations. The festival starts on August 22. Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal's Secretary Sudhir Salvi announced no idol will be kept inside the pandal as devotees will throng the place to offer prayers. Large gatherings are banned in India to stop coronavirus transmission. To note, Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state.
Further, Salvi announced that Labaughcha Raja Mandal will donate money to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund. "We will also felicitate families of martyrs who have lost their lives at Line of Control (LOC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC)," he added. Last month, 20 Indian soldiers were martyred after a violent face-off with China's People's Liberation Army in the Galwan Valley.
This announcement comes days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to mandals to keep celebrations low-key. The Dahi Handi celebrations, which take place on Krishna Janmashthami, were also canceled. "I want to thank Dahi Handi Mandals for canceling the festival on their own volition," Thackeray said. Notably, Mumbai has 28,924 active cases of coronavirus, and 4,556 have died. In Maharashtra, 7,855 passed away.