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Ganesh Chaturthi: Ganpati aala re!

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By Ridham Gambhir

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New Delhi:  When the streets of Mumbai are flooded with people and not rain and hues of red and yellow fill the welkin, we know the birthday of our beloved elephant-headed god is here! Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi,  is a 10-day long festival that is celebrated with much zeal in Maharashtra and Karnataka. However, the celebration is not limited to just these two states in India, as migration has taken the festival to other places as well.

Historically, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by Chatrapati Shivaji and has continued ever since. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, also known by the name of Lokmanya Tilak, is attributed with making the festival popular during the freedom struggle, and later giving it the festival a, somewhat, national identity.

This grand birthday commences with artistic idols, in various hues and colours, ranging from 6 inches to 70 feets (even higher), being made and erected at public places. These huge structures, often decorated with flowers, leaves, coloured paper and LED bulbs, are known as pandals.  Modak, a round shaped sweet made from khoaa (prepared by continuously boiling the milk) and dry fruits, remains the most widely prepared and distributed sweet dish, hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa and Upanishads, are continuously chanted.

The contemporary celebrations include installations of clay or plastic idols of the deity in public (or even private spaces) wherein the idol is worshipped for a span of 10 days. On day 11, the idol is immersed in a water body to observe Ganesh’s farewell. The ritual is known as Ganesh Visarjan.  The process witnesses multitude of people  swinging and gyrating to dhol beats.

This 10-day merry making is not simply a festival. It is an economic activity on which depends the livelihood of many12033600_10200988364227217_28286165_n

artistes and businessmen. In accordance with the local civic body, a total of  1, 91,000 idols were installed across the city in 2014; out of which, 10,350 were at Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandals and 1,80,650 belonged to locals.

The magnanimity of this event is experienced the most at Lalbaugcha Raja, which is the most famous Sarvajanik Ganapati. The idol placed here meets  maximum devotees during this 10-day period.

However, if we cast the festival revelry aside, the environment is damaged to quite an extent. The idols, which are made of non-biodegradable materials such as PoP (Plaster of Paris), when immersed hit the marine life adversely and cause a great deal of  harm to the water quality, aquatic life and bodies.

While ‘To Make a Difference’ (TMAD), a Bengaluru-based organisation, delivers eco-friendly Ganesha idols at your doorstep, another Mumbai-based NGO has launched the #GodSaveTheOcean campaign.  The organization manufactures 9-inch Ganesha idols that are ocean-friendly.

Ganesh Chaturthi  is a festival of vigor and enthusiasm and much awaited too. So, celebrate the days wholeheartedly and in an eco-friendly manner!

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World Class Zoo Worth Rs 500 Cr to Come Up in Mumbai

The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a CZA team in 2014 which recently gave its clearance

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World, Zoo, Mumbai
The zoo, estimated to cost around Rs 500 crore. Pixabay

An ultra-modern zoo of global standards, spread across 100 acres, is expected to come up in the lush green environs in the suburban Goregaon in Maharashtra, officials said here on Wednesday.

The zoo, estimated to cost around Rs 500 crore, will have a host of unseen wild animals, trails and jungle safaris, nature education centre, a separate breeding centre and other facilities as per guidelines of Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a CZA team in 2014 which recently gave its clearance, and the new zoo will be virtually adjacent to two tourism centres like the famed Film City and nearby the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

On Wednesday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Maharashtra Forest Department and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) whereby 100 acres of the 190-acre government land will be given for setting up the zoo.

World, Zoo, Mumbai
An ultra-modern zoo of global standards, spread across 100 acres, is expected to come up in the lush green environs in the suburban Goregaon in Maharashtra. Pixabay

The BMC will soon appoint a project management consultant and prepare a comprehensive master plan for the zoo which will be executed from its own resources. However, the net revenues shall be shared by the civic body and the forest department.

The MoU documents were signed and exchanged in the presence of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

As per the MoU, the forest department will provide technical expertise in procuring various animals for the zoo and other facilities which would showcase the rich biodiversity of the state and the country.

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Since there is no space to expand the existing 50-acre zoo in Byculla, an alternative site inside the Aarey Milk Colony was explored. (IANS)