In a narrow bylane of Central Mumbai, Vasant Waikar gives the finishing touches to a Ganpati idol. A yellow dhoti, filigree necklaces, this is not a Ganesha who is splendour-shy.

There is no boarding pass, but the idol will soon fly to America, one of many that are being ordered by homesick Maharashtrians who miss the Ganpati Bappa Morya fervour that is a proud ritual for this time of year in Mumbai.

Lalbaugh Cha Raja – or the King of Lalbaugh – is one of Mumbai’s oldest and largest community celebrations. It owes its name to its origin – Lalbaugh is a colony which is home to idol-makers.

Over the years, the demand from NRIs in Singapore, US and Britain for Lalbaugh Cha Raja has been steadily expanding. The idols themselves have not. They are never taller than two feet and are made of plaster of Paris – ensuring that they travel light. The prices vary from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 7000.

And while they are never created without the modest mouse that legend has them riding, it’s now jets that are really allowing them to get around.

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