As the date of Ganpati comes near, the residents of the city get excited for the 10-day festival. Every year, we hear something new or innovative being done by city residents. People enjoy themselves during these 10- days. You may have heard of pub-hopping or club-hopping, but the youngsters of South Mumbai, particularly from Cuffe Parade and Marine Drive have come out with a very interesting idea called ‘Ganpati pandal hopping’. They are the ‘Ganesh toli’, a group of 30 - 40 young boys and girls in the age group of 18 - 40 years, who form a group of Ganesh bhakts and indulge in the concept of Ganpati pandal hopping during the Ganesh festival.
This initiative was taken by Mohit Chaturvedi, chairman of the Youth Wing of the Cuffe Parade Residents Association and Aakash Raj Purohit, who heads the Youth Wing of the Marine Drive Residents Association. The duo leads the group and plans the complete sojourn in great detail every year with much fanfare and enthusiasm.
Aakash Raj Purohit says, “Every year for past six to seven years, we form this young group called the Ganpati Bhakts Toli’. We identify an area say like Cuffe Parade and make it a point to visit all the public ganpati darshans in the area.
After we have done the darshan, the entire group goes out for lunch or dinner depending on the time,” Aakash adds, “We usually do it over a period of three days and each day it takes around three - four hours, where one day is reserved for Cuffe Parade, another for Marine Drive and Kalbadevi and the last for large Ganpati pandals at Opera House and Khetwadi. We also have a colour and dress combination code each day, where one day we would all be wearing orange, and the next day something blue as decided by the group in advance.”
Mohit Chaturvedi explains, “We do this every year purely to inculcate the virtues and values of not just the religion and culture but also bring a sense of bonding among the youth in our area. The group consists of young men and women, who are as diverse as students, businessmen or professionals, but are bonded by the single most important thread, their devotion and love for Ganesha, the elephant god”.
“The Ganpati festival is celebrated with much fanfare and jubilation by the group at the Marine Drive Ka Raja every year and we along with our team make it a point to make this as memorable as possible for the youngsters in our locality as well by indulging in taking our ‘Ganesh Toli’ for various darshans across South Mumbai” adds Chaturvedi. This is surely a nice way to keep the youth involved in our religious practices and customs.