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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ganesha - the rich pandals and Insurance

One sees whatever one wants to see – anywhere, everywhere. 

Ganesh Chathurthi is a very popular festival across the Country.  Ganapathi, Vinayakar, Vigneshwarar – in various forms is celebrated in Temples, households and in Pandals made by groups where the idol of Vinayaka is kept, worshipped and then immersed in river / sea and water after worship.  

-- and some Commercial players try to cash in on the Ganesh fervour.  Radio players bank on integrated campaigns to take the Ganesha fever in the country to a new level. While RJs tune their show to the festival rhythm, on-ground campaigns have been designed to complement the on-air fun.  There have been advertisements and campaigns on air seeking to have more of customers….  Suddenly now more hype is on having eco-friendly Ganeshas.  In the market, one has to outbeat and outsmart their rivals by sheer innovation.  

While Big FM goes on-ground, Radio City goes on-air – literally. Radio City is providing  treasured opportunity for its listeners to watch ‘Ganpati Visarjan’ from a chopper flying above the Arabian Sea.  Their  ‘Dekho Visarjan Aasman Se’, in association with Vodafone, involves a simple process where a Vodafone customer just needs to download a ‘Ganesha’ caller tune on his phone by sending an SMS to Vodafone. RadioCityRJs choose one lucky subscriber randomly from the pool of registered downloaders. Next  the  RJ asks a simple question, the correct answer to that question ensures one to  fly high, enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching ‘Ganesh Visarjan’ from a chopper.

There are many Pandals – put up by local Organisations with ornately made Ganesha idols. Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the most popular ones.  The idol is kept for public display for Eleven days thereafter it is immersed on the auspicious day of Anant Chaturdashi. This Ganesha reportedly  attracts lakhs of devotees every day.  It is believed that this Idol of Lord Ganesha is Navsacha Ganpati (fulfiller of all wishes).  This popular Ganesha is hosted by Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Lalbaug, founded in 1934 at Lalbaug.  Lalbaug lies in the approximate centre of Mumbai, near Dadar and Parel, and has been a famous centre for reunions of Hindus during their festivals, especially the Ganesh festival.

One report has it that devotees have to spend over 90 hours in the queue to touch the feet of Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai’s favourite deity.  The numbers are only adding up and those in the Queue are not not perturbed about spending hours in the navasachi raang (queue where people promise something to the god if their wishes are fulfilled) at Lalbaugcha Raja. Organisers serve breakfast to those who stand in the queue.

Legendary singer Asha Bhosle, who is making her acting debut with the movie "Mai", launched a special song titled " Dhakku makum" from the film at the Lalbaugcha Raja on 19th Sept 12.  "Dhakka makum" is a euphoric number, and features 79-year-old Bhosle dancing in the rain.  The song, composed by Nithin R. Shankar, is sung by Amit Kumar and Bhosle's granddaughter Zanai, who makes her singing debut with the number. "Mai" is a touching story of a present day mother-daughter relationship. Bhosle plays the mother, while Padmini Kolhapure is making her comeback to the big screen as the daughter.

Away from the religious fervour, there is avenue for the Insurer as well.  In 2011   Mumbai's famous Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh mandal  reportedly had insurance for Rs.14 crores.  To ensure a safe festival, they have elaborate security arrangements, deploy  300 private guards, install many CCTV cameras.  It is not the richest though ! Gaud Saraswat Brahman mandal's Ganesh festivities reportedly had a cover of close to Rs. 222 crores.  The components of the insurance  included -  the amount for the 'Standard fire and Special Perils with Terrorism' cover is Rs 1.35 crore;  Public liability insurance at Rs 20 crore. The all-risk policy including the gold ornaments,  was reportedly worth Rs 18.35 crore. – and there was PA coverage for devotees – some 1820 persons @ 10 lakhs each.  The insurance coverage is on a short period basis of 15 days.  

This year 2012, the insurance cover for Lalbaugcha Raja is reported to have  gone up to Rs 45 crore from Rs 15 crore last year. GSB Seva Mandal, Sion has applied for an insurance cover worth Rs 235 crore from Oriental Insurance, while Mumbaicha Raja, Ganeshgalli, has increased its insurance from Rs 1.9 crore last year to over Rs 3 crore this year.  Indemnity cover for large Ganpati pandals like Khetwadicha Raja, Vile Parlecha Peshwa and Andhericha Raja have risen 50-150% over the past one year, said general insurers and trustees of various Mumbai-based pandals.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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