Despite the appeals from several organizations and State and Union Governments, to go for eco-friendly Ganesha, the ten-day long Ganeshotsav celebrated across the country is a Rs 20,000 crore mega show, and the expenditure on the festival grows at an annual rate of 30 percent. The festival is also recession-proof, with economic turbulence failing to make much impact on the scale of celebrations. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has carried out a study in this regard.
The report — “Analyzing economic boom around Ganeshotsav in India” — points to the “generous contribution by people from all walks of life” towards setting up pandals for public celebrations. It notes that the arrival of the elephant god is particularly awaited in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Indore and Nagpur. A very conservative estimate puts the number of Ganesh mandals in Pune city at around 5,000-6,000 and more than 15,000 in Mumbai. In Hyderabad, the small and big idols of Ganesha are more than 25,000 officially this year, according to another study. A very conservative estimate puts the number of Ganesh mandals in Pune city at around 5,000-6,000 and more than 15,000 in Mumbai. While there are about 2,000 registered and unregistered mandals in Ahmedabad, there are about 1,500 each in Nagpur and other cities. The number of mandals has been increasing by 5-10 percent each year, the report states. The insurance cover of these mandals runs into crores of rupees.
The report observes that several Ganesh idols are adorned with real gold and diamond ornaments. Mandals attract contributions/donations in cash, which includes foreign currency, as well as jewellery, sponsorships and paid requests from people in India and abroad to perform pujas. The Assocham report says that the Ganesh festival provides jobs to thousands, most of whom are hired as private security guards, volunteers, craftsmen and skilled and unskilled labourers. These workers make good money. The increasing cost of raw materials like clay, colours and bamboo has pushed up the price of Ganesh idols by about 20-25 percent, but that is hardly a deterrent for people celebrating the festival, the report says.
In recent years, malls too have been trying to cash in on the festival’s fervour. Many malls make special arrangements to lure crowds, which also helps them tide over the slack season. “A majority of the 50 malls that Assocham interacted with across cities of Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Kolkata, said they are expecting a 15-20 percent rise in footfall during Ganeshotsav” the report says.
Dinesh Thite, who has researched extensively on the Ganesh festival for his doctoral thesis on “Culture Mobilization and Politics in Urban Setting”, says Ganeshotsav is the biggest festival of Maharashtra which has cultural, social and economic dimensions. The festival is more than 100 years old and sees mass participation of people from all walks of life who come out to participate in various sociology-cultural activities. One thing is observed that global market trends have no impact on the festival, in Hyderabad. The mood is upbeat and encourages people to shop and spend. Though it is a religious festival, it goes beyond that, especially in Hyderabad, as several Muslims engage themselves in preparing Ganesh laddu. It helps engage a lot of skilled and unskilled laborers, in the old city of Hyderabad.