Ganesh pandals: Obstacles in the path of devotion

Ganesh pandals: Obstacles in the path of devotion
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Ganesh Pandals: Obstacles in the Path of Devotion. Many Ganesh pandals are set up on the roads blocking traffic and putting the residents into avoidable inconveniences. It also adds to the woes of the GHMC

Many Ganesh pandals are set up on the roads blocking traffic and putting the residents into avoidable inconveniences. It also adds to the woes of the GHMC

The spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi has bubbled across the city. The festival of Ganesh is around the corner and the entire atmosphere is suffused with festivity. Shops selling Ganesh idols have cropped up all over the city from main markets to narrow alleys, where rows upon rows of painted and unpainted Ganesh idols of various sizes and shapes sit, waiting to be taken home. Kids and adults wander about looking for the one they want to install in their homes.

Sounds all happy and festive, right? Wrong. A much loved festival marked by devotion and faith has been reduced to nothing more than a loud, commercial and ostentatious party today.

Huge pandals are put up in locations with thematic decorations with a stage for the Lord. In a street there are three pandals. Many streets are totally blocked. Each locality has four to five big pandals. Worst is that there are no signboards of a Ganesh pandal a few yards away. You enter a street and suddenly you realise there is a pandal and your vehicle cannot move forward. Behind you are scores of cars and two wheelers who got into the street unaware of the pandal. This causes traffic congestion for hours at times. Why are the pandals not planned and erected? Why are there no signboards of a Ganesh pandal erected by the GHMC, traffic police or the organisers which can add to peace, save valuable time and added prayers?

"We are not against people celebrating it as it is our own festival. But they need to realise that they cannot put others into inconvenience by putting up pandals without proper planning. Nobody is willing to lodge a police complaint as we want peace and harmony in our locality," PC Jain, a resident of Begum Bazaar, said.

Lalith Ranka, a silk merchant, chipped in, "Earlier, they used to block three streets and leave one free for us. But this time they have blocked all the four streets without even bothering to inform us. We do not have any objection against pandals, but we also need to travel out of the area. If all roads are blocked, how do we get out?"

“The GHMC’s job is to fill potholes on each and every road before the Ganesh festival. But while Ganesh mandals feel GHMC should plug potholes even after the festival, civic authorities are left high and dry with dug-up roads all over the city which add to their work and budget,” says Mahesh Kumar, officer, GHMC .

Meanwhile, several corporators closely associated with Ganesh mandals of their localities have taken up the issue individually with GHMC officers. “It is next to impossible to erect pandals without digging roads. Civic officers very well know that Ganesh mandals won’t be able to prove that they did not dig roads. The mandals are also making amateur attempts to cover up damaged patches. Why doesn’t the GHMC take action against contractors who do shoddy work instead of harassing Ganesh mandals like this,” asked a senior corporator in Begum Baazar, who had raised the issue with the GHMC.

We all love this festival – the cultural and the spiritual aspects of it. We enjoy everything from installing the idol at home, decorating the shrine painstakingly, making and eating the modaks and other offerings and doing the evening aarti with the family. But our love turns into distaste and anguish when we look at the degeneration of the festival outside the home causing traffic congestion, unplanned erection of pandals, dug up roads and pollution. Sans these problems, this is one festival which brings unity among communities.

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