My friend Prasad is a Dalit. He is a strong follower of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and his principles. A large photo of Dr. Baba Saheb greets you as you go to his house. Not once has he swayed from his principles and not once has he missed the programmes of the Mahaparinirvan Din which is observed on the death anniversary of this great leader.

This year too, Prasad is getting ready to go for the day. He has asked me also to go along with him this time. I, as a good friend am going to come all the way to Mumbai just for the sake of friendship and partake in the activities that are going to be held during the Dr.Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Din on December 6, 2011.

I had read somewhere in the newspapers that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or the BMC has already started with grand preparations for the day and is getting ready to make arrangements for the millions of followers of this one leader who brought about a great change in the society. I have seen Prasad go every year to the Chaityabhoomi in the Dadar area of Mumbai city and pay respects to Dr.Baba Saheb. Now there are just four days left for the programme and I have my tickets booked for tomorrow and I would reach Mumbai day after.  Whatever the delay be, by the time the programme starts everything is normally done with and is ready.

Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Din

Political parties interested to make an impression take this day as a day of reckoning and help the followers of Baba Saheb. Meetings are organized prior to the day and the mayor and other senior representatives of the government come together and meet to decide how best to handle the situation.

The Mayor supervises and gets updated about the preparation for the day and the government checks all the inconvenience that the devotees could face and help to ease them out. Added to this, the local residents are not left without trouble. Even they are inconvenienced by the congregation of such a huge crowd in one place. So the government authorities see to it that the discomfort is minimal. Facilities such as mobile toilets are arranged and everything is tried to be done in an organized manner.

The ward officer who is in charge of the Chaityabhoomi Shivaji Park normally visits the site the evening before the day and checks the conditions there and also the status of the situation. More than 250 toilets are arranged besides 150 mobile toilets. The mobile toilets are normally placed near the Indu Mill area. There are separate toilet facilities for males and females. Water tankers are provided for drinking water facilities. There are around 350 water tankers arranged to provide water for all. Water drinking booths are kept at a distance of 100 m in the whole area. A huge canopy is raised and it spreads over an area of around 1.30 lakh square feet. This is the place where the devotees are normally accommodated.

Chaityabhoomi Shivaji Park

I always get astounded by the way Mumbai handles this Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan din every year. The disaster management arrangements are always good with the civic control room and the police control room at different ends of the venue. Around 12 watch towers are constructed with five towers in the main venue and seven towers in the area encircling the venue. A single tower is especially for the VIP’s.

Thus Chaitya Bhoomi at Shivaji Park is witness to one of the biggest congregations in India – The Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Din, and Dr. Baba Saheb, the architect of Indian constitution would once again beam through a hundred posters and through a thousand devotees’ minds.

Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar is no less a God for all Dalits and this social reformer is revered by all of them with a kind of ardent fervor which you would only believe when you see it live. I have seen it, and I get very emotional to see that the Dalits regard the visit to the Chaitya Bhoomi every year as a kind of pilgrimage.

Celebration of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Din

Earlier I used to live in Mumbai, so I know how the road traffic gets affected on this day. So many offices are in fact are closed on this day. SVS Road, NC Kelkar Road, Ranade Road , L J Road, Keluskar Road, Katria Road, S K Bole Road , Tilak Bridge and many such neighboring areas face a problem with traffic. The traffic police and the government divert the traffic and work hard to keep the system going without any problems. So all motorists use the Senapati Bapat Marg and the Dr. BA Road and the NM Joshi Marg on this day.

Again Mumbai’s bus service will see around 40 or more additional bus services being added to make things easier on December 5 and December 6.

With CCTV cameras dominating the place and the entire place looking like a jamboree, the Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Din is no less than a festival in India. This year, I am accompanying Prasad and fulfilling a friend’s duty.