Ganesh Utsav on LoC: The celebration at Poonch all set for its 13th year

Ganesh Utsav this year is going to start across the country from August 31. Predominantly celebrated in Maharashtra, where it originated, the festival is also observed far away at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch by soldiers and locals.

Entering its 13th year, the preparations are in full swing in Poonch. The Army personnel and locals together celebrate the 10-day Ganesh Utsav.

For the last 12 years, Lord Ganesha has been worshipped on the India-Pakistan LoC near the Pulast river in Poonch. Arrangements for the festival are made by the local social organisation and Indian Army’s unit 101 Gunner Regiment. In the 10-day long Ganesh festival, the soldiers of the Indian Army guard the Ganesh pandal day and night.

Talking to IANS, Poonch’s social worker Ishradidi said, “This year we are also going to celebrate Ganesh Utsav on the border. However, it was not celebrated on a large-scale for the last two years due to Corona.

The ‘King of LoC’

The idol of Lord Ganesha is brought from Mumbai for this festival. The Ganpati pandal in Poonch is named as the ‘King of LoC’. Ishradidi said that for the last 12 years, Ganesh idols are made in Mumbai by a single artisan. This year on Sunday (August 21), the Ganesha idol is being brought from Mumbai to Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir. She said, “Our soldiers on the border protect the country even in difficult situations. Everyone is sure that this year also Ganesh Utsav will be celebrated with pomp and show at the border.”

It is believed that Lord Ganesha protects soldiers on border

The soldiers of the Indian Army’s Gunner Regiment worship Lord Ganesha for 10 days during the festival. It is believed that Lord Ganesha keeps the Indian soldiers safe from enemies on the border. This is the reason that every jawan of the battalion takes blessings by worshiping Lord Ganesha during this time. Bappa’s ‘aarti’ is performed by the soldiers at 4 a.m.- 5 a.m. Apart from this, even at 7 p.m. local people do ‘aarti’ together in the presence of the soldiers. The Ganesha idol is immersed in the Pulast river near the Sher-e-Kashmir bridge on Anant Chaturthi.

Bappa lives in the shadow of guns

These days the incidents of target killing by terrorists are increasing in Jammu and Kashmir. Isharadidi, the head of the ‘King of LoC’ Ganesh pandal, said that there is always a terrorist threat around the border. In 2016, on the day of ‘Mahabhandara’, terrorists attacked a place near the Ganesh pandal, in which her nephew was shot dead. In the subsequent encounter, four terrorists were killed. In view of this, the Army personnel are deployed around the Ganesh pandal with guns, so that the plans of the terrorists can be foiled.

This Ganesh festival in Poonch was started to increase the enthusiasm and morale of the Army personnel. In view of the target killings by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, this year the administration has directed the Ganpati Trust to be more vigilant. LAte night travel is forbidden. This is the reason why Ganesh Utsav will be celebrated in coordination with the administration and according to the guidelines of the Army.

Though Ganesh festival is celebrated all over the country, this festival celebrated under the shadow of guns on the LoC of India-Pakistan is very special. Be it the local people of Poonch or the soldiers, everyone gets fully involved in the worship of Ganpati Bappa for the 10 special days.

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