"Lalbaugcha Raja", the biggest draw of Mumbai's 11-day Ganesh festival, will be missed this year. The organisers of the Lalbaug celebrations decided today to cancel the event because of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a first in Lalbaugcha Raja's 87-year history.
"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 armymen 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.
The Ganesh idol at Lalbaug in Parel area of Mumbai towers over most others in the city and is among the biggest crowd-pullers in the annual festival.
"This year we will not be keeping any idol otherwise people will throng to see it," Mr Salvi added.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had recently thanked all religious communities for showing restraint during the lockdown that included several festivals.
He had said that despite Maharashtra's progress in tackling COVID-19, the crisis is not over yet and urged the people of the state to follow rules and ensure the lockdown is not re-imposed.
A few days earlier, the wildly popular Dahi Handi celebrations were cancelled in view of the pandemic.
"I want to thank Dahi Handi Mandals for cancelling the festival on their own volition," the Chief Minister said.
He had also thanked Warkaris, pilgrims who walk to Pandharpur in Solapur district ahead of Ashadhi Ekadashi, for "celebrating on a low key."
On Wednesday, for the first time in three days since the coronavirus disease spread in Maharashtra, the state recorded less than 5,000 cases. Mumbai also recorded less than 1,000 cases.
The state's tally of positive cases is now 1,74,761.