GST, note ban upset festival budgets

There are some things even the elephant-headed remover of obstacles cant do much about. Two of them are GST and Demonetisation. Recently, they combined forces to subdue dahi handi celebrations and now paired up to play party poopers during Ganeshotsav. While the mammoth Ganesh mandals–with their large varganis (donations) and corporate sponsors–have been relatively immune from their onslaught, small mandals have been hit hard.
“Sponsorship? What sponsorship?” laughs Naresh Jain of Tarun Mitra Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav mandal which hosts Gigaum cha Vighnaharta. “We are having a tough time making ends meet,” says Jain, adding that their regular sponsors have suffered 20 to 30 per cent losses post GST, causing them to back out this year. So Jain has had to cut down on crackers and music systems but has made sure not to extend such compromises to the Bappa’s idol or the mandap decor. “How can you do less for God?” he asks.
Another consequence of GST is the rising prices of raw material, says Jitendra Khanvilar, chairman of Parmanand Wadi Bal Mitr Mandal of Mumbadevi cha Ganaraj. Their 24-ft-tall murti–which came at Rs 2.5 lakh last year–was priced at Rs 3 lakh this year. Also, as opposed to Rs 22 lakh–their budget last year–the mandal has spent only Rs 15 lakh this year for lack of sponsors and advertisements. “I think we will end up going into losses this year,” says Khanvilar.