Mumbai: The 10-day Ganesh festival starts has started, but Robin Pathania has already spent over 90 hours in the queue to catch a glimpse of Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai’s favourite deity.
Pathania, 25, a resident of Boisar, was the first in the queue; he stood there from Saturday afternoon. Devotees are allowed to take darshan of the idol from 7am on Wednesday.
“For the past three years, I visited the Lalbaugcha Raja, but did not get to touch his feet. I only got mukh darshan. I decided I will start the queue this year and hence, stood in the line from 12.30pm on Saturday,” Pathania who works in an import-export firm told DNA. “I am here to pray for my 27-year-old sister’s marriage. Getting her married is my priority. I will do anything for that and I am sure Raja will fulfil my wish.”
Like millions of devotees every year, Pathania is not perturbed about spending hours in the navasachi raang (queue where people promise something to the god if their wishes are fulfilled) at Lalbaugcha Raja. “The first night in the queue was a bit difficult. I changed my clothes in a public washroom after taking a bath. I had a light diet, mainly fruit juices. On Sunday, the second day, other devotees joined the queue,” Pathania said.
Since then, Pathania said he had no idea how to spend time. “I kept chanting Raja’s name to make it a spiritual atmosphere. I feel proud that I am the first in the queue and will be the first to get Raja’s darshan. The mandal organisers have been very helpful and cooperative,” he said.
Dheeraj Rathod, 38, joined Pathania in the queue on Sunday morning. “My mother has a knee problem and experiences excruciating pain. She is scheduled to undergo surgery next week and I am here to pray for her good health. I just want to touch Raja’s feet,” he said.
Rathod, a resident of Lower Parel, works with Jaslok hospital. His son joined the queue on Tuesday evening.
Prafulla Nair is also among the first to stand in the queue. “My 88-year-old mother is very ill since the past month. I will pray to Raja to take care of her health,” said Nair, who works as a senior clerk with Western Railway at its Churchgate office. She said she had been visiting the mandal for two years, but decided to take Raja’s darshan on the first day this year. Nair, who stood in the queue from Sunday afternoon, said people have been very cooperative. “They also allow us to sleep in the queue. It has been a pleasant experience,” she said.
The Lalbaugcha Raja sees millions of devotees every year, but such devotion has left even the organisers surprised. “We expected people to queue up a day before the festival, but devotees have been standing in the line since Saturday,” said Ashok Pawar, president of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal.
“This year, we expect 60 lakh devotees compared to 50 lakh last year. We have put up hoardings, saying devotees may end up spending 24-30 hours in the queue.” Organisers serve breakfast to those who stand in the queue.