Pune: Although Ganeshotsav is predominantly a Hindu Festival, people belonging to other faiths such as Muslims celebrate the festival with enthusiasm in Pune and across the State. The Muslim Aukaf Welfare Trust will welcome and felicitate the five Manache Ganpati in Belbaug Chowk, Laxmi Road on the day of Visarjan (immersion).
Speaking about the initiative, Mushtaq Patel, President of the trust, said, “We have been doing this for the past 10 years. When I started this activity, there was widespread feeling in society that all Muslims were trouble-makers and they were against the Ganesh Festival. I wanted to change this misconception. So, I decided to welcome the palanquins of Manache Ganpati on the day of Visarjan every year. This has earned me immense respect from the Ganesh mandals, which is very overwhelming.”
Patel visits households of his friends, as well as several Ganesh pandals during the festival, thus enjoying Ganeshotsav to the fullest.
Akhil Merchant from Mumbai said he has been celebrating Ganeshotsav with his several Hindu friends for over 25 years now. “I visit houses of my Hindu friends in Mumbai and Pune on almost all the days of the festival. We are fond of Bappa. We also wait for puja and aartis and pay our respect to the God.”
Ganesh Thapa from Ahmednagar, who has a couple of Muslim friends helping him throughout Ganeshotsav, said, “My Muslim friends are so excited for the festival that they also come with me to Pune to buy Ganesh idols.”
He further said, “They are there throughout the festival, helping me with decorations, attending pooja and eating sweets. If this isn’t communal harmony, I don’t know what is.”
“Many people from Muslim, Bohra communities come to us for choosing and buying Ganesh idols with their Hindu friends. Though they do not worship Ganesh in their own houses, I have seen that they actively participate in the festival at their friends’ households,” Rajendra Deshmukh of Shree Natraj Arts in Subhashnagar, who makes Ganesh idols, said.