For the first time in 87 years, the most famous Sarvajanik Ganpati, the star of the show, Mumbai’s Lalbaugcha Raja has been cancelled and won’t be coming home. The banging of doll drums, the shrill noise of the conch, chants of the elephant-headed God ringing in the air and throngs of devotees flocking to the sarvajanik mandals to whisper their prayers in the ears of the deity all will be cancelled. If we have managed to paint a picture of the scale on which Mumbai’s Ganesh festival is commemorated, keep that in mind cause a mental visual may be all you have this year. In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Lalbaugcha Raja will not be celebrated this year.
Lalbaugcha Raja cancelled
This disputatious verdict was in fact in keeping with the Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing has become vital to keep the virus at bay. Thus, the cancellation of Lalbaugcha Raja which attracts lakhs of attendees is definitely is a no-brainer. The organisers instead have come up with a commendable plan.
"We have decided to not celebrate the Ganesh festival this year. We are going to celebrate it as a health festival. This decision has been taken in view of the pandemic. In those 10 days, we will organise a blood donation camp and an awareness camp to promote plasma donation. We will also felicitate the families of policemen and army men who gave their lives for the country. We are also donating Rs 25 lakh to the Chief Minister's Fund for fighting the pandemic." said Sudhir Salvi, secretary of the Lalbaug Mandal.
How the plasma drive will work
The Lalbaugcha Raja mandal organisers are in talks with Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM) in Parel. The hospital is adjacent to Lalbaug. Thus, after registering at the Lalbaug chowk, people will be taken to the hospital to donate their plasma. KEM Hospital is one of the 21 hospitals that are part of the Thackeray-led government’s Project Platina. This is the world’s largest plasma therapy trial and treatment project for critically ill Covid-positive patients.
Plasma therapy has shown encouraging results in diseases wherein there is no specific line of treatment. In this therapy, plasma from Covid survivors is used to teat those suffering from Coronavirus and in critical stage. The idea behind this is that the survivor’s plasma will have the antibodies against the virus, which will then boost the receiver’s ability to vade off the infection.
What Mumbaikars think of this
You’d think Mumbaikars would be disappointed about their favourite festival going up in smoke, but to much surprise they have not missed an opportunity to voice their pride and congratulate this initiative.
Speaking about it, Karan Wahi the Dill Mill Gayye actor said, "I think saving lives and keeping people safe is the highest priority and I am glad it’s come from the biggest Ganesh Chaturthi mandal in the city. I hope people understand the need of the hour and act wisely like they have."
Bigg Boss 13's Dalljiet Kaur also spoke about it and hailed the committee's decision. She said, "I think it’s a lovely initiative. Lal Baughcha raja has always given so many blessings over the years and many devotees believe he has showered happiness.... “When king says ... the kingdom will follow” I hope everyone will follow the king as an example. I am extremely happy and proud of the committee's decision."
Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke actor Vatsal Sheth says, "It’s a great decision... health and safety of the devotees comes first... I am sure even Bappa would want that."
Ganeshotsav is set to start on August 22 this year. However, it seems like the festivities that are usually much looked forward to, will be subdued after all.