Mumbai: Minis, shorts
or attires ending up above the knees are out this year for
devotees who want a 'darshan' of Andhericha Raja (King of Andheri)
idol of Lord Ganesh, during the 10-day Ganeshotsav starting in
Maharashtra Wednesday, an organiser said.
"After much deliberation and debating, we have decided to enforce
a strict dress code for the devotees visiting Andhericha Raja for
a darshan," said Uday Salian, spokesperson for the Andhericha Raja
Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Monday.
It has become the first mandal (association) in the state to
implement a dress code for devotees since the public festival was
started by freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1894.
"Any person above the age of 13, male or female, must come
properly attired or he or she will be denied entry by our security
personnel and mandal volunteers," Salian told IANS.
He explained that in the past few years many devotees came dressed
in outrageous, offensive and even downright unacceptable clothes.
"Besides insulting the solemnity of the celebrations, they end up
causing distractions and embarrass other devotees," he said.
Local devotees have welcomed the dress code, saying that the young
devotees troop in for 'darshan' virtually in picnic attires which
hurt the sentiments of others.
The Andheri Mandal, which attracts up to two million devotees from
all over India, including top celebrities from diverse fields,
till Sankashthi day when the idol is taken for immersion, has
other surprises up its sleeve this year.
In order to make the celebrations more eco-friendly, the mandal
has discarded plastic bags and ordered 200,000 small cloth bags to
Salian said the mandal had tied up with Majestic Publishers to
hold a book fair during the Ganeshotsav and sell books on
discount. "This is to inculcate reading habit among our young
generations which are hooked to television, internet and mobiles,"
On Sep 26, the mandal would organise a blood donation camp.
Andhericha Raja is the only mandal in the city which will not
immerse its 8.5-foot-tall Lord Ganesh idol on Anant Chaturdashi
day Sep 29.
Instead, it will be immersed with traditional pomp and gaiety on
Sankashthi day, which falls Oct 3 this year, nearly a week after
Ganeshotsav celebrations end all over the state.
Explaining the reasons behind this, Salian said that in 1976 the
Golden Tobacco Co. Ltd. in Vile Parle had shut down, leaving
thousands of people jobless and virtually starved.
"Some of its employees, who lived in this area, had vowed that
year (1976) that if their company re-opened soon, they would
worship Andhericha Raja for a few more days during the festival
and immerse it on Sankashthi day," he said.
Their wish was fulfilled and since the past 35 years, Andhericha
Raja bids adieu to his devotees only on Sankashthi day, he said.