On Thursday, Bhaubeej, which is the last day of Diwali, was subdued for many in the city as canards of Thackeray’s failing health flew thick and fast. Bhaubeej celebrations were more or less subdued in Marathi and Sena strongholds. Across parts of the city, shops had downed shutters and across corners, people huddled in small groups discussed the Sena chief’s health in hushed tones.
Girgaum resident Nilesh Mule said the area is otherwise full of fun and festivity. "People burst crackers and there is much cheer around, but this time it was different," said Mule.
By late Wednesday evening, people had voluntarily pulled down kandeels (Diwali lanterns), mostly the ones provided by the Shiv Sena, and decided to curtail celebrations.
Nalasopara resident Archana Kerkar, who was in the city at her brother’s home for Bhaubeej, said, "Affinity for Thackeray, who has always stood by the Marathi people, has kept us away from celebration," said Kerkar.
Unlike Kerkar, several others decided not to travel for the festival. "My mother’s brothers, who live in Vasai, decided to perform the puja another day. Usually, the family comes together, but this time around we did not feel like it," said Girgaum resident Harshad Desai.
For Sainiks, rituals took a back seat on Thursday.
"We have been at Matoshree all of Wednesday night," said Shobha Manjrekar, a resident of Mangalwadi in Charni Road. "To me, Balasaheb is greater than God. I’ve cancelled all ceremonies today," she said, wiping her tears.