The 10-day Ganesh festival will, for the first time, have 280 girls from Stds VIII and IX serving as purohits. The girls, along with 70 boys, are being groomed in performing puja to install the idol of Lord Ganesha in homes across Mumbai Central. The 350 children from Abhyudaya Nagar, Kalachowkie, for the past month have been practising the mantras and rituals for the big day in the cramped classroom of a one-storey building in the area.It makes me proud,” said Puja Gosavi, who has been selected for the course. The puja classes are conducted every weekend for an hour. There are seven batches of 50 children each. The children are from the nearby Shivaji Vidyalaya, Ahilya Vidyalaya and the King George School at Hindu Colony, Dadar. They have been attending coaching classes in the premises for their regular school subjects.
The idea was the brainchild of Naresh Dahibawkar, the president of the Brihanmumbai Ganesh Utsav Samanvay Samiti (BGUSS). “There are only 3,000 purohits across the city. This year, we expect around 2.2 lakh Ganesha idols to be installed in houses and sarvajanik mandals in Mumbai. People often have to wait for a purohit, but he already has many commitments,” said Dahibawkar.
“Since we run a coaching class and knew of children who were learning Sanskrit, we asked them if they would be interested. We received an overwhelming response from girls,” said Kailash Kadam, in charge of the training programme. The academy even roped in a professional purohit to teach children the right intonation and the correct way to perform the rituals.
Rujuta Chavan already helps in preparing for the daily puja at home. “The Ganesh festival is a big occasion. We have holidays during this period and visit all the mandals in Mumbai. My family is proud that I am doing this course,” she said.
“Right now, we have concentrated on teaching them mantras and rituals. We will be teaching them the meaning of the mantras and what each action and item used in the puja signifies,” said Kadam.
The samiti will chart out a programme for children in their vicinity, said Dahibawkar, adding that the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust had evinced interest in the programme.
Author: Clara Lewis
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 18, 2011