Political parties set up Ganesh Puja pandals in Rajkot

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Mumbai, Aug.27 (ANI): In a bid to cash on one of the biggest gatherings of devotees during the ongoing Ganesha festival, political parties have set up pandals or makeshift temples here.

The 10-day festivities mark the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, signifying good omen and prosperity.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set up a huge 'pandal' for Ganesha followers, anticipating devotees converging in large numbers.

People are turning up in these pandals fascinated by the life-size Ganesha statues and to participate in prayers.

BJP's local unit in Rajkot has planned grand celebrations during the days ahead with various cultural programmemes and competitions scheduled on this occasion

Political activists and organisers of the Pandal say that the objective behind all this set up is nothing but to encourage people's participation in religious programmes such as this one.

"We are organising it for the second time. This programme is based on our religious sentiments. The people of Rajkot are aware that even though the programme is organised on behalf of the BJP but the motive is to encourage participation of Hindus and to propagate religious sentiment," said Nitin Bhardwaj, City President, Bharatiya Janata Party.

Organisers deny it has anything to do with politics or publicity.

"This is not a political programme, it is a religious programme. Rajkot, Saurashtra, is the land of Mahatama Gandhi, Krishna and so on...This is a religious programme in honour of Ganesha," said Dhansukh Bhanderi, organiser.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena party has set a huge prayer tent and is drawing hundreds of devotees.

"The faith in Ganesha is such that people come here themselves. It is completely a public affair. There is no political intention in it," said Jimmy Adwani, President of Shiv Sena's Rajkot unit.

Initially, Ganesha Chaturthi was a personal or domestic affair, celebrated within homes. At the turn of the last century, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a revolutionary freedom fighter and crusader against the British colonials proposed it become an even of bringing people together and promote unity. By Suresh Soni (ANI)

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