As Ganpati Comes With a GST Tag This Year, Devotees Feel the Pinch

GST makes Ganpati idols more expensive this year, but “the Puja must continue” say Mandal officials and devotees.

4 min read
Hindi Female

Mumbaikars are all set to welcome Ganpati Bappa, even if it pinches their pocket a little more this year. Markandey Singh’s family has been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi at their home since 1996. Last year, a 2-foot tall idol cost them Rs 2,100, this year however, the price has gone up to Rs 2,400.

We have been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi at our residence for over 20 years now and while the prices do increase slightly each year, this year it has increased by Rs 300. We have to keep up our tradition but instead of paying the entire amount at one go, this year I made a down payment of Rs 2,000 and I will have to pay the rest when I take the idol home.
Markandey Singh, Devotee

With the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax this July, key materials used to mould Ganesh idols like Plaster of Paris, Paints and Varnishes have become more expensive. Plaster of Paris was earlier charged 13.5 percent tax, now a GST of 18 percent has been levied on it. Paints and varnishes, earlier charged 13.5 percent tax, but will now attract 28 percent GST. This isn’t the only area that will be seeing a hike in prices.

The articles of plaster or of compositions based on plaster; such as boards, sheets, panels, tiles and similar articles, not ornamented, which was charged at 13.5%, is taxable at GST of 28%. Similarly, the cost of services including design, etc have gone up sharply due to increase in GST rate from 15% to 18%. But this is not the only thing affected. The organisers will have to pay GST while hiring decorators for embellishing the pandals, transportation etc. The earlier service tax of 15% paid by the Mandals until now, under GST is increased to 18%.
Santosh Maurya, Chartered Accountant
GST makes Ganpati idols more expensive this year, but “the Puja must continue” say Mandal officials and devotees.
Cost to be borne by Ganpati Mandals after the implementation of GST.
(Photo Courtesy: Santosh Maurya, Founder, Adventes Tax Advisors)

While those celebrating the festival on a small scale at their homes are less likely to feel the pinch, bigger Mandals across Mumbai however, have a different story to tell.

Ganesh Gully, one of the most famous Mandals at Lalbaug, has been around since 1927. This year, they have had to shell out an additional Rs 20-25 lakh. With total costs including the idol and decorations going up to Rs 1 crore. But compromising on the grandiosity of the celebration is not an option for the trustees.

We have been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi by holding Puja for 90 years now. There is an impact due to GST already being felt. Prices have shot up by at least 10 percent this year. Ganesh idol, decoration costs have all increased but these are necessary for the Puja, we cannot help but spend on these aspects.
Swapnil Parab, Secretary, Ganesh Gully Mandal

While bigger Mandals cannot compromise on the scale of celebrations, smaller ones are left with no choice. The 60-year-old Vinayak Sadan Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal at Mumbai’s Lower Parel has an annual budget of about Rs 3.5 lakh but this year their budget is stretched by at least Rs 50,000. Since they don’t have a GST number, they are not even eligible to claim the input tax credit for the additional expenses incurred.

Our Mandal doesn’t have a GST number as we are open for only 12 days every year. We have a Mandal registration number, auditing is done as well but the CA says that since we don’t have an income throughout the year, why will you need a GST number? Most of our vendors are also small and deal in cash. We are trying to find a solution now.
Mangesh Gawanakar, a member of the Mandal
GST makes Ganpati idols more expensive this year, but “the Puja must continue” say Mandal officials and devotees.
Ganpati idols being made at a workshop ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi
(Photo: The Quint)

Idol-makers stationed at a workshop in Parel are adding finishing touches to about 1,000 idols that have already been booked. Raju Shinde, an idol-maker, says though prices of raw materials have increased, there has been no impact on the number of idols being bought by devotees.

Last year, one sack containing 25 kilos of Plaster of Paris cost Rs 155, this year it is about Rs 170. If we end up spending more, we will pass along the charge to the Mandal or the customer who is buying from us. But people have their beliefs and they are willing to compromise on the cost to offer their Puja.
Raju Shinde, Idol-maker

With clay idols exempted from GST, does this mean we are likely to see more eco-friendly Ganeshas? Quite likely, says 59-year-old idol-maker Prakash Pednekar. Out of the 300 orders he has received this year, over 100 are for idols made of clay. This is almost double in comparison to last year. But due to time constraints and higher cost, many idol makers shy away from focusing solely on making clay idols.

GST makes Ganpati idols more expensive this year, but “the Puja must continue” say Mandal officials and devotees.
Prakash Pednekar adds finishing touches to a clay idol.
(Photo: The Quint)

“It takes a lot of time to make clay idols. You can make about four Plaster of Paris idols in a day but you will take at least three days to making one clay idol. While a two-foot Plaster of Paris idol will cost you about Rs 3,000, the same sized clay idol will cost you about Rs 5,000” said Prakash Pednekar.

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Topics:  Devotees   Ganesh Chaturthi   Ganpati 

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