Skyrocketing gold prices and a dull economy did not stop devotees from donating whole-heartedly to the elephant God this Ganeshotsav. Major mandals have received record collections of not only cash but also gold and silver.
The Wadala-based GSB Seva Ganesh mandal, the city’s richest festival organiser, has seen an increase in gold and silver offerings this year. The cash offerings have also gone up by over 20 per cent this year, said Satish Naik, senior trustee of the mandal. We have received over 70 kg gold and more than 470 kg silver this year. Interestingly, when it comes to religion, recessionary trends do not seem to have an effect. While the mandal is also trying to fund a college in Bhayandar, direct donations to the cause were less, as devotees would rather donate in the name of God than a cause”. The mandal has received Rs 6.3 crore this year as compared to Rs 5.3 crore last year.
Gold prices have been recording a sharp rise in the past six months, with the yellow metal crossing the Rs 32,000-mark last month during the Ganesh festival. While gold prices touched new highs last month, it closed at Rs 31,223 today, witnessing a gain of 12 per cent since April this year at the rate of Rs 27,890 per 10 gm.
At Andhericha Raja, amongst the most popular Ganesh mandals in the suburbs, the collections have been increasing each day. Uday Salian, spokesperson for the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal that will conduct visarjan on October 3, the gold and silver offerings are more this year as per the number of hundis we have collected. One might go slow on their spending at other items, but true devotees never cut back on the offerings to God, as this is usually a religious tradition.
At Parel’s Lalbaugcha Raja, the city’s most popular Ganesh mandal, while the counting is yet to be completed, the latest collection figures have added up to Rs 6.5 crore. “We expect that the offerings will cross the previous year’s Rs 8-crore mark, considering the number of unopened hundis. The gold and silver collection is itself is more than seven hundis. With the Lalbaugcha Raja considered the God who fulfills all promises,even rising gold prices do not deter true devotees,” said treasurer Rajendra Lanjwar of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav mandal. Trust officials said they expected gold donations to cross at least 10 kg, going by the number of unopened hundis. Last year, the mandal received around 7 kg gold, including diamond and gold necklaces. At neighbouring Ganesh Galli’s Lalbaugcha Raja, the most prized offering is a rudraksha necklace gifted by Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. The mandal has received nearly double the gold collections compared to last year, said mandal secretary Swapnil Parab.
Nilesh Patel, president, Shri Balgopal Taluka Malabar Hill Raja Ganesh Mandal, said, “While last year, we received less than 500 gm gold and silver, this year we have received over 3 kg gold and silver.”