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  • *INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION*Unfurling of National Flag will take place at 9.30 a.m. on 15 Aug ( Saturday) at Maharashtra Bhavan, Sector 19 D, Chandigarh. All are cordially invited. While visiting all are to follow directions, very religiously, issued by the Chandigarh Administration for fighting COVID 19 during the celebration.
About Maharashtra Mandal
Being perhaps the senior most member of Maharashtra Mandal, Chandigarh, I take this opportunity to share & write something about through this article. When it comes to recollecting as to how the present Maharashtra Mandal of chandigarh come into existence, my memory dates back to the year 1961-62 when Sh. Kaka Sahib Gadgil – a Maharastrian himself, was the then Governor of joint Punjab and I hed just arrived in Chandigarh to take up a job with Punjab University ( in the Sr. Architect’s office).

In the early sixties, there was hardly a handful of Marathi population (that too the Floating one) in Chandigarh. Off & on this small community of about fifteen families would Dussehra, Makar Sankranti etc. It’s quite natural that when you come to a strange city or a state or for that matter even to a country, there is always a strong urge to meet the people of your own origin with whom you could not only share the things in your mother tongue ut also you feel mentaily little secure.

As such, the idea to establish Maharashtra Mandal in Chandigarh was mooted in the year 1962 with the blessings of Sh. Kaka Sahib Gadgil who encouraged that small population of Maharashtrians at that time to go for it . I still remember that at the time of giving ceremonial farwell to Sh. Gadgil in October-1962, the first ever Marathi play was organized by Mrs. Rangnekar, Ms. Borkar, Mr. Pimple and myself. There were about fifteen to twenty Marathi families who had come to reside in the civil area only.

Well, on one nice evening in February 1963, four/five families had gathered at on of the families place and it was finally decided to establish Maharashtra Mandal in Chandigarh to. Now there was no looking back and these families stared gathering at each others, residences over lunch or dinner, mostly on Sundays & holidays to discuss the modalities. You will be amused to know but it’s true that in the beginning it started with just a meager collection of 25 paise per head to organize a get-together over a cup of tea with some light snack like poha. With this kind of frequent rounds of interaction amongst the Maharashtrian families, the circle had started growing. Just to give you an introduction of our Marathi families/members in Chandigarh during that period, who were instrumental in establishing the present Maharashtra Mandal were, Dr. Rangnekar (HOD/Econimice,P.U.) Mr. Pimple (Deptt. Of Sociology/P.U.), Dr. Waghmare (Deptt. Of Phychology /P.U.), Dr. Dev (Punjab Engg.College), Dr. Prabhawalkar (Principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture), myself & Mr.Mande (Deptt. Of Town Planning , Capital Project of Chandigarh), mr. Marathe (pFizer), Mr. Bijur (Joint “Director), and the people like Sh. Rajadhyaksha ,Mr. Pujare, Sh. Pawar, Sq.Ldr .Sh. Dighe, Maj. Vaze and sh. Pandit (PS to Punjab Governor).

Here, it also reminds me of aving organized the first ever Ganeshotsava at the residence of Mr. Bijur in Sector 16 in the year1964. At that time the membership fee was just Rs.100/-and fee for Ganeshotsave/pooja was Rs.20/-. Nevertheless, every member had made all out efforts to collect donations from the shopping areas of Sectors 1,16,9,22&26,and to our pleasant surprise, people of this city had donated liberally towards all the activities concerning Ganeshotsava such as the sthapana of Lord Ganesha , organizing Mahaprasada and Viarjana, and bringing out the souvenir etc.

In those days, the most difficult job was that of transportation of Lord Ganesh’s Murti to the city as at that time the rail reservation system in India was too backward and bringing the Maruti with care was quite a hardship. But, as they say ,where there is a will there is a way, a cuple of Air Force Officers volunteered and took the responsibility of airlifting the Murti to Chandigarh. Finally, the Murti did arrive and Tagore theatre was booked for two days (@ Rs. 125 / - per day) . Everything happened as it should have been, alongwith a three-act –play and other variety programmes. The responsibility of organizing Mahaprasada was taken happily by the ladies as each on of them prepared & brought on item (home-cooked) and served it with great devotion at Mr. Bijur,s residence by making the devotees sit in a row. Later on, preparations were made for the visarjana in Sukhna Lake. Lord Ganesha was made to take his seat luxuriously in Mr. Prabhawalkar’s chanting enthusiastically –‘ganpati bappa moreya’. After performing aarti and Visarjan, everybody came back with a heavy but with a promise from Lord Ganesha to come back early, next year too.

This was the turning point when everyone started dreaming of the next year’s Ganeshotsava and for all times in future on a regular basis. It reminds me that in the year 1965 also, Ganeshotsava was solemnized at Mr. Bijur’s residence but the enthusiasm was marred by an unfortunate incident – an incident which was exceptional & unforgettable for all those present at Tagore theatre to watch a three-act-play. All the artists were very excited & ready with their make-up to put up the show whereas the audience had already taken their seats. The first bell had already rung and the audience were keenly looking forward to the second bell and so on for the show to commence, when suddenly to everybody’s shock, the year 1965. There were quite a few officers from the Indian Army as well as from the Indian Air Force who were either participating in the play as artists or were in the audience. The Army & Air Force vehicles had started pouring in to the parking lot of Tagore theatre and these brave Maratha soldiers left immediately for the war without even meeting their near & dear ones and that had created quite an emotional scene for all of us. The black-outs were declared in the city by the administration amid tension prevailing at that time. However, special permission was granted by the Govt. for the morning/evening aarti and finally the permission for permission for visarjana.

In the year 1966, in view of the overwhelming enthusiasm of the reasonably grown number of the members of Maharashtra Mandal, Ganeshotsava was decided to be solemnized at Pnchyat Bhavan we also got permission to organixe three-act-play, bhajan sandhya & ther variety programmes besides preparing & serving Mahaprasada . That was also a memorable occasion as Mr. .Rajwade had given Sitar performance for the first time to a Marathi audience in Chandigarh. This year, as a good gesture on the part of personnel of the Air Force,’ Queen Marry’- apretty long & spacious vehicle with hardly about on & a half feet high above the surface, was provided for immersion of Ganpati. It was quite a half feet high above the surface was provided for immersion of Ganpati. It was quite a sight to watch as the Queen Marry would move at a very also pace, so slow was the speed that the devotees would hop on & hop off of it through out dancing , chanting and playing lazim. The onlookers too on the way to immersion were quite amused & fascinated by seeing the Queen Mary and the excited devotees it was carrying. Many non Marathis also rejoiced the occasion and joined the procession on the way.

The year 1967 came up with rejuvenation and with renewed vigour & optimism. Such was the zeal that in the beginning of the year i.e. in January itself, Mandal was established officially at Mr. Prabhawalkar’s residence. Nevertheless, the strong desire to have a plot and a permanent building for Maharashtra Mandal constructed over it, was very much alive. Gradually, the strength of the members had also been increasing day by day. Then onwards, two man functions i.e. sthapana divas & Ganeshotsava started talking place alongwith lots of discussion & interactions amongst the members as to how to acquire a plot of our own & build Maharashtra Mandal Chandigarh. This year only Mr. Mande’s friend, the renowned classical singer Pt. Kumar Gandharv performed as a charity show for the Mandal, Though this show offered free entry for the audience, fairly handsome funds could be collected with the help of this show through advertisements in the Mandal’s souvenir. The Ganeshotsava of this year was solemnized at Panchayat Bhavan programme etc. wwhereas rest of the activities concerning dance, music, three-act-play, cultural programme etc. were organized at Tagore Theatre. Like the preceding year, visarjan took place by all the devotees carrying the holy idol in Queen Mary vehicle of the Air force. Now it was not merely Ganeshotsava but also festivals like Kojagiri, Sankrant, Gudi Padva etc. were being celebrated.

On the occasion of Foundation Day of Maharashtra Mandal on 19th January, 1968, yet another celebrity classical singer Pt. Bhimsen Joshi’s performance was organized and the music lover thoroughly enjoyed it. By now the people of the city Beautiful had very well started understanding & knowing the rich traditions of rich Maharashtrian culture, it’s folk & classical music / dances etc. This year due to the enhancement in the tariff of Panchayat Bhavan, Ganeshotsava was organized at Central Polytechnic, Sector 26 where the hall was provided on complimentary basis for the purpose. Again in 1969, Ganeshotsava was mnized at Panchayat Bhavan’s small hall.This time, the special performer was Pt. Prabhakar Karekar who enthralled the audience with his classical vocal performance.

1970 will go down as very important year in the history of Maharashtra Mandal as it was during this year only that our Maharashtra Mandal got registered under the act of Chandigarh Cultural Society vide Registration No. 100. I clearly remember that during this period not only Maharashtra Mandal but also Mahila Mandal remained active. The ladies of the Mandal would put up eating stalls at rose Festival, give demonstration of Maharashtra dishes and Rangoli at Govt. Home Science College in Sector 10 in the invitation of M/s. Dungaji(Principal) and so on. It was some time during this span itself that the classes III employees of the P.G.I. had gone on an indefinite strike that the Mahila Mandal members did voluntary services with dedication serving food to the patients and helping them with their other necessities. All this was done under the able guidance of Dr. Prof. Bidwai, Dr, Prof. Deodhar, Dr. Prof. Mitra and Dr. Mrs. Mitra of PGIMER, Chandigarh.

In 1972, a very interesting play – ‘Shivdarshan’ based on Chhatrapati Shivaji was presented by Prof. Vasant Bapat add that become a big hit in the City. There were almost hundred plus artist who had participated in the said play and it was quite a job to make suitable arrangement of bording & lodging for them. As usual Sh. Prabhawalker came forward as a very active & valuable member of the mandal who relentlessly contributed in making best of his efforts in collecting funds for the cause. There was such a huge crowd of people who thronged at Tagore theatre that the organizers were simply amused & confused as to how to tackle the things. Well, it was ultimately managed by placing extra chairs in the theatre whereas many in the audience watched the entire three hour’s play standing in one of the wings of the theatre. The play was appreciated &applauded so much that most of the people in the audience took sometimes as they refused to come out of the theatre by the chanting once more, once more – wanting to watch it all over again. In view of the popular demand, this play was again re-enacted twice on behalf both Punjab & Haryana Govt. In the whole process, not only the director & the producer of the play earned more but Maharashtra Mandal too got a hefty donation of rupees one lac each from the Punjab as well as from the Haryana Govt.

The Ganeshotsava of the year 1973 was solemnized at the residence of Mr. Konkane (S.E. Punjab Irrigation Deptt.) because he had a very spacious house with lush green lawn in sector 16.The installation of ‘Shri’ would take place inside the house and rest of the cultural activities in the lawn with the improvised arrangements of making the verandah as the stage and the seating for the audience in the lawn. By now there were may renowned artists such as Mr. rajwade, Ku.Sharau karekar and Mrs.Saroj Marathe who were the members of the Maharashtra Mandal and they would perform quite often.

Now it was the turn of Mr. Poddar (S.E Pb Ground Water Resources Dev.) at whose residence in Sector 7, Shri Ganapati was installed & Ganeshotsava solemnized in the year 1974. Sukhna lake was very close to his place and such as,the people had just walked down for the immersion ceremony.
From 1975 to 1977, for the three consecutive years, Ganeshotsava had been solemnized at Mr. Mehandale’s residence in sector 21. During this period of three years the responsibility of Ganapati’s sthapana & decoration was taken over by the youth of Maharashtra Mandal. This time Sh. Mahadeokar played a key role along with the newly added youth. Major Dongare also contributed in prize Distribution. During this period, Mr.Vilas Janve and Mr.Frishna Kate prepared mime and puppet artist group of Maharashtra Mandal and presented a number of shows. So many new items with regard to the fun games, plays, cultural programmers’ were added and for this, the credit goes to the youth of that period – Mr. Vilas Janve Krishna Kat, Sopan Kulkarni, Deepak Argare, Shirish Punekar etc. In 1977, the enthusiasm in the people was at its peak as everybody was counting on return of Shrii Ganapati next year at their own Maharashtra Mandal.

Finally, the day broke with the Chaturthi of the year 1978 when in the name of the present Maharashtra Mandal in Sector 19, there was just a four-wall and roof with unfinished floor it was a real sight to watch each & every members of the Mandal who had tears of joy in their eyes were in so excited with a feeling of possessiveness of their very own Maharashtra Bhavan. Nevertheless, even in these circumstances without proper infrastructure, Shri Ganapati idol was installed with best of decorations. A stage was erected by joining the wooden planks to organize Bhajan Sandhya and other variety & cultural programmes. On the day of immersion, a truck was hired.

Well, this is how, starting his journey from a small house, Ganapati Bapps reached our own Maharashtra Mandal and since then He has been enlarging tremendously the circle of His devotes Through His love & blessings.


Maharashtra Mandal Chandigarh is a non-commercial community for Maharashtrians in chandigarh. We are not involved in any commercial activities or do not post any advertisement any where. We are not responsible for any misleading advertisement anyone post by our name.