Category Archives: Ganesh Festival in Mumbai
Where: Ganesh Galli, Mumbai
Famous for: Oldest Ganesh pandal in the city
The history: One of the oldest known Ganesh pandals in the state, the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli started the festival in 1928 to inspire people to fight for their rights in the pre-independence era. Throughout the 10 days of the festival, after the evening pooja, the organisers would host plays like the Ramayana and Mahabharata and screen regional movies to raise awareness about India’s rich culture and various art forms.
In the year 1977, the pandal entered its 50th year and to celebrate the occasion, erected a 22 ft idol, which went on to become the first biggest Ganesh idol in the whole of Maharashtra. While the record was subsequently broken by Khetwadicha Raja in the year 2000, the organisers have ensured to keep the idol well over 20 ft since then. This is despite the BMC issuing a warning to restrict the height of idols to 18 feet.
The idol this year: The 22 ft idol designed by Biharilal giri and 200 workers is set against the backdrop of Pashupathinath temple, Nepal. The entrance to the pandal features the 12 famous jyotirlingas in the country.
“A lot of people in our country are religious and due to lack of time and resources are unable to visit the sacred places. Every year, we attempt to replicate one of these temples to make people aware of our culture and heritage and also give them a real-life experience of visiting the place,” shared Swapnil Parab, secretary to the mandal.
Where: Girgaon, Mumbai
Famous for: It’s the tallest, eco-friendly idol made of clay
The history: In 1928, Ramchandra Tendulkar, who was the Mandal’s treasurer at that time, started the Ganesh Utsav in the Nikadvari Lane. The speciality of the Ganesh idol at Girgaon is that it is one of the few idols in the state that is made out of clay.
Unlike the regular idols which are made out of Plaster of Paris, the Girgaoncha Raja is made of Shadu clay, a special type of clay which is imported from West Bengal and is also used to make Durga idols for the Durga pooja.
Another tradition here is that since the last 85 years, the Patkar family is in charge of making the idols, which are peculiarly over 20 feet in height every year.
The idol this year: This year, too, the idol is 21 feet high and is sculpted by architect Rajan Patkar. The idol weighs 2 tons.
Sanjay Harmalkar, the secretary to the Mandal informs me that they want to spread the message of eco-friendliness through their clay idols.
“Every year, after the immersion, we see so many fragments of PoP Ganeshas in the sea. Not only is it disrespectful to the idol, but it is also harmful to the environment. The cleaning up also takes longer time. Although difficult to make, the advantage of clay idols is that they melt easily during immersion. On behalf of my Mandal, I’d like to request everyone to choose eco-friendly Ganeshas over PoP ones,” says Harmalkar who has been using the mandal’s Facebook page to spread this message among young people.
Where: Lalbaug, Mumbai
Famous for: It is known to fulfil your wishes
The history: In 1932, a temporary but prime market place in the Peru Chawl area of Lalbaug was shut down by the government. The fishermen and vendors who lost their livelihood decided to pray to Ganesha to help them with a permanent place to do business. Thanks to the efforts of a few councillors in the area, a new market was constructed in the same place.
In celebration, the localites formed the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal in Lalbaug in 1934.
Since Ganesha fulfilled the wish (navas) of the fishermen and vendors, the Lalbaug Ganpati also came to be known as ‘the wish-fulfilling one.’
The first Ganesh idol was incepted on September 12, 1934. Since then, the mandal is thronged with visitors throughout the 10 days of the festival.
The idol this year: The Ganesh idol this year stands 12 feet tall and took two months to be ready. Santosh Kambli, who sculpted the idol this year, belongs to the third generation of architects responsible for the patented design and decorations of the Raja.
The cost of the idol is Rs 60,000, but the decorations and other arrangements work up to 17 lakhs.
During the 10 day event, the pandal is visited by over 1 crore visitors every year and on weekends, organisers inform that it becomes difficult to accommodate people in the 3 lakh sq ft area surrounding the pandal.
Lalbaugcha Raja is also one of the richest Ganeshas in the whole of Maharashtra.
“Our every day collections sometimes round up to a crore. Just yesterday’s collections touched 85 lakhs,” informed Rajendra Lanjwal, treasurer of the mandal.
Lanjwal reveals that the money thus collected is utilised for social purposes under the initiative titled Lalbaugcha Raja Prabhodini. Some of the projects financed under the Lalbaugcha Raja Prabhodini include the Sane Guruji Abhyasika (a place for children to study), Swatantryaveer Savarkar Library, Sant Dnyaneshwar Reference Book Bank, Swami Vivekanand Scholarship (Scholarships for poor and deserving students) and Competitive examination counselling centre (to prepare students for IAS and IPS exams).
Where: Lane 12, Khetwadi, Mumbai
Famous for: They made the tallest ever Ganesh idol in Maharashtra
The history: When the Khetwadi Mandal was incepted in 1959, it had humble beginnings. However, in 1984, the members of the Mandal started collecting one rupee coins as donation towards their dream of making the largest Ganpati in the state.
With each passing year, the height of the Ganesh idol rose from 28 to 35 feet high. In the year 2000, the Khetwadi Mandal fulfilled their long cherished dream and created history. They made the highest idol of Ganesha — a whopping 40 feet high statue replete in Parshuram Avtar, which is claimed to be the highest idol of Ganesh in the Indian history.
Since then, there has been no looking back for them.
The idol this year: The organisers have tried to recreate Mumbai’s Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple this year. The 15 feet tall idol is made from Plaster of Paris and is adorned by jewels and accessories made of pure gold. It is designed by architect Raju Shinde and claims to be the fourth richest Ganesha this year next to GSB Seva Mandal, Sion, GSB Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, Wadala and Lalbaugcha Raja.
Over 100 workers have assisted Shinde in completing the idol, which cost the Mandal Rs 1, 20,000. “We spent close to Rs 40 lakhs on the decorations and theme,” added Ranjeet Mathur, President, Khetwadi Mandal.
In the past, this Mandal has recreated themes like the Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors), Raj Mahal (Palace of the King), Swarg Mahal (Palace in Heaven) and Deep Mahal (Palace of Lamps).
GSB Samaj Ganeshotsav
Where: Ram Mandir, Wadala
Famous for: Adorned in a 22 karat gold-plated throne and precious jewels, it’s the richest Ganesh idol in the city
The history: The Goud Saraswat Brahmin Samaj started the festival in 1955 with the sole aim of uniting the Goud Saraswat Brahmin community in Mumbai. Over the years, it is said to have answered the prayers of lakhs of people from different communities which went on to attract visitors from various parts of Mumbai. While some of them rewarded in cash, others donated gold and coins to the deity. In the year 2011, the GSB Samaj sought an insurance cover of Rs 222 crore for the idol. Needless to say, the GSB Samaj Ganesha is known to be the richest deity in the city.
The idol this year: The 8-feet high idol adorned in gold and jewels donated by its visitors is a sight to behold.
“We offer various poojas for our visitors throughout the day at subsidised costs. Everyone is equal before God and it is our duty to spread the message through the festival. We want people to experience peace and divinity while they are here,” shared NN Pal, trustee chairman, GSB Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, Wadala.
Where: Bhandarkar Road, Matunga East, Mumbai
Famous for: Provides food to over 20,000 people through the festival
The history: In 1962, a few residents from Bhandarkar Road area came together to start the festival and promote a social cause. Unlike the other Ganesh pandals which collect money from locals and residents for the festival, the Bhandarkar Road Sarvajanik Seva Samiti works in peculiar way.
“We don’t go door to door collecting money. Whatever money comes through donations is used to make the idol. Even the jewels and throne are not owned by the mandal. There are some noble people who have agreed to contribute to it. After the festival, they take it with them and provide it again the following year,” informs Rajendra Verma, a committee member who has taken leave from work to look into the arrangements.
The idol this year: The 11-ft idol designed by Ashok Parab stands in a busy street in Matunga. Every child who visits the idol is offered a chocolate bar instead of sweets.
Each evening through the 10-day festival, after the 8 pm aarti, the Samiti provides food to over 20,000 people, most of whom include poor children from the slums. The nearby locals have also allowed them to use the building space below to let senior citizens enjoy the meal in peace.
Where: Andheri, Mumbai
Famous for: Besides fulfilling people’s wishes, the pandal is known to replicate larger-than-life themes every year
The history: About 47 years ago, a few factory workers had moved from Lalbaug area of Mumbai to settle in the western area of Andheri, Mumbai next to their respective factories — the Golden Tobacco Company, Tata Special Steel and Excel Industries Ltd.
These people, missed visiting and celebrating the Ganesh festival in Lalbaug and hence started the Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samitee in 1966 with the festive aim in mind.
Over the years, it has replicated various themes in its pandal which include famous temples like the Akshardham, Somnath, Mangueshi and Saras Baug.
The idol this year: This year Andhericha Raja has replicated the Jain Dilwara temples of Mount Abu, Rajasthan. The idol has been designed by Raju Savla whose family has been entrusted the responsibility of making the Raja since three generations now.
Besides Savla, over 50 workers have contributed towards readying the pandal in two months.
The decoration has alone cost over Rs 30 lakhs, informed a committee member of the mandal.
Unlike the other Ganeshas that are immersed on Anant Chaturthi, this is the only Ganpati which is immersed on Sankashti, which falls five days after Anant Chaturthi.
Like the Lalbaugcha Raja, even Andhericha Raja is a wish fulfilling one, and is visited by over 10 lakh people every year.
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.
The Lower Parel railway workshop Ganesh idol is a burning example of how to put waste to best use. The six-foot-tall idol made entirely from dumped railway bogie parts stands proudly inside a temple made from scrap generated by the workshop. The Lord and His abode are so unique, it is hard to miss them even amid the hectic activity around.
“I created the idol around three years ago. All of us who work here pray to it every day. It is a symbol of our dedication to railways. It sends out the message that even scrap is given the form of God here,” said Santosh Gajakosh, a grade-I fitter who maintains old coaches, beats iron panels into shape and repairs equipment.
While the idol trunk is made of equalising stay rods, milk tank brass hangers make its ears and air suspension cylinders the body. The idol is repainted and decorated before every Ganesh and other festivals.
The heavy duty railway workshop at Mahalaxmi too is a proud possessor of two such Ganesh idols and an ‘iron man’.
“It takes 10-12 days to complete the work,” said Ganesh Laxman Ambekar, a grade-I welder who has made the two idols, one showing Ganpati playing a musical instrument.
The ‘iron man’ gifted by bogie assembling unit staff to Indian Railways on the 85th anniversary of electrification of WR, is symbolic of the core nature of the Mahalaxmi workshop that maintains local trains.
Ambekar and Gajakosh’s enthusiasm is shared by Rajan Bhagwat, a junior engineer in the mechanical department of the diesel locomotive shed in Pune. He also spends considerable time and effort in creating idols from scrap.
“In 2001, I made an idol of Lord Ganesh for installation in the bungalow of then Central Railway general manager. In 2003, I made another idol for then GM’s Peddar Road bungalow using scrap from diesel locomotives at the shed. I used the lid of a filter drum to make the face of the idol. I have also made idols of Balaji and Padmavathi from scrap. The satisfaction is immense,” said Bhagwat.
Each of the 14 lanes in Khetwadi, Grant Road (East), boasts its own Ganesh idol, but, as always, the queues are the longest outside the 12th one.
Inside the tall pandal, it is evident why: The mandal’s 12-foot Ganesh idol sits on a throne in a resplendent room with tall pillars and intricate floral carvings painted in crimson and gold, akin to the palace-like interiors of the Iskon temple in Juhu.
“Every year, we try to offer something new to our Lord and to our devotees. This year, we chose the theme of Iskon’s palace temple because our idol is majestic,” said Shankar Harare, secretary of Khetwadi’s 12th Galli Ganesh mandal, which has spent more than Rs. 25 lakh on organising the festival this year.
The mandal’s idol, popularly known as ‘Khetwadicha Ganaraj’, draws lakhs of devotees because of the wish-fulfilling powers it is believed to possess.
“No matter how hard it rains or how crowded the trains are, I make it a point to visit this idol at least once during the festival,” said Neelima Pathare, 46, from Vasai, who swears by the idol’s ability to heal all health problems.
This year, devotees will get a chance to view the tall idol at face-level, from a gallery erected opposite the throne. “On the last day of the festival, we will also distribute water to all devotees from a special counter outside the pandal,” said Harare. Donations are used to help those in financial need in the locality.
This year, the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal has recreated the famous shrine in Nepal to give devotees a truly spiritual experience
If you have always cherished the dream of visiting the famous Pashupatinath mandir in Nepal, you have a reason to smile this year — the shrine is being recreated at the famous Ganesh Galli Ganpati.
In the past, the mandal has successfully recreated various holy pilgrimage spots situated all around India. Pashupatinath mandir is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is regarded as one of the most holy sites for Hindus, situated in Kathmandu on the bank of the River Baghmati.
The temple dates back to 400 AD. “Our main aim behind recreating Pashupatinath mandir in Mumbai is because there are many Hindus who wish to visit the holy site in Nepal but don’t get a chance to do so. So we thought that we should come up with the concept of Pashupatinath mandir so that people feel that they have actually visited the mandir in Nepal,” said Sanjay Sawant, vice-president of the Ganesh Galli Mandal.
This year, the idol at the Ganesh Galli mandal is similar to the one that was installed in 1989, a creation of the well-known sculptor Dinanath Velinge, who first started sculpting massive Ganesh idols.
The same idol was remade by Velinge’s apprentice and now famous sculptor Vijay Khatu. The contract for designing the replica of Pashupatinath Temple was given to Biharilal Giri, owner of Maharaja Arts. Giri started work two months away from the festival and around 40-50 artisans and worked round the clock to turn the vision into a reality.
The organisers of the mandal are known for various charitable activities like blood donation. “It is a very proud moment for me, as I am going to make the same idol which was made by my guru Dinanath Vilenge in 1989 at Ganesh Galli and I am very thankful to the mandal for giving me this chance,” said Khatu.
First few images of our favorite Lalbaugcha Raja, sourced from various sources.
Over 8,000 colour pencils and 12,000 erasers have been used to make the Ganesh idol of the Jai Ambe Mitra Mandal, Raval Nagar, Bhayander (East). The mandal’s theme is ‘when you educate a girl, you educate a nation’. When the mandal turned three in 2009, its members felt the need to use the 10-day festival as a platform to spread social messages. This year, when the mandal was deliberating on themes, stories of female foeticide were making headlines, said mandal president Mukesh Ufale. “We worship goddesses. But when it comes to our daughters and sisters, we want to simply marry them off. That is when the idea of educating the girl child occurred to us.”
After deliberations, it was decided to use stationery to make the pandal’s idol.
The Ganesh Idol has been installed inside a single huge coconut embedded with 1111 coconuts supported by bamboos, coir and jute without using any artificial plastic or thermocol decoration. This adds a natural beauty to the Ganesh Idol which makes it very special and eco-friendly. In addition to inculcating this theme into the minds of young and upcoming children at Konkan Rail Vihar.
It has also organized various events and competitions such as bhajans, devotional songs, speech competitions, dance and open religious antakshari, making of Ganpati idol competition, open quiz on devotional theme, skit & religious fancy dress competition so that the children of Konkan Railway can grow into better citizens of tomorrow thereby taking forward the hierarchy of our rich and religious Indian Culture. This Eco-friendly decoration as well as various religious competitions will be a great feast to the eyes of the Navi Mumbaikars.
Lord Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom and prosperity arrived in the homes of his devotees amid traditional fervour, pomp and gaiety. The ten-day Ganesh festival began on Wednesday with the “pratisthanpana” (installation) of the Ganpati idols in Sarvajanik pandals and households.
The iconic 78-year-old ‘Lalbaugcha’ Raja, the 22 feet Ganpati at Lalbaug, 58-year-old GSB seva mandal of King’s Circle, the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti in Wadala and Khetwadi Ganpati are some of the prestigious mandals here.
Politicians including Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and former Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi, and filmstars like Salman Khan, Nana Patekar and Jeetendra joined the common man in celebrating the festival.
The administration has made available additional BEST and MSTRC bus services for benefit of the citizens. Adequate security measures have been taken with deployment of state police, state Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force, Home Guards and civil defence personnel. The mandals have been asked to install CCTVs and organisers have been trained in mob control and monitoring suspicious activities.
With the rains taking a break, people utilised their holiday on Wednesday to visit family and friends. Those who installed the Lord at home thronged the markets to make last minute purchases to accord him a grand welcome with ‘modaks’, ‘karanjis’ and ‘laddoos’ (sweets).
Over a lakh household Ganpatis will be immersed on Thursday, prompting the opposition parties like Shiv Sena and MNS not to participate in the Bharat bandh called by the BJP-led NDA to protest the fuel price hike and FDI.
Meanwhile, the “Fort Vibhaag Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal”, one of the oldest in the Fort area of south Mumbai, has decided to highlight the cause of organ donation by providing information about it through pamphlets, posters and documentaries.
Ten volunteers of this ‘Icchapurti Ganesha’ (wish fulfilling Ganesha) having pledged to donate their vital organs after death.
At a time when Ganesh mandals across the city are caught in the race to roll out the biggest Ganesh idol, albeit using plaster of Paris and thick coats of chemical paint, students at Villa Theresa School at Peddar Road are learning the trick of churning out small palm-sized eco-friendly idols.
As part of the ‘Green Ganesha’ drive across city schools by Children’s Movement of Civic Awareness (CMCA), the students recently built an idol using eggplants and potatoes, wherein they used eggplant for the head while the stem formed the idol’s trunk and potatoes were used to form its body. Stating that it’s been six years that the students have been making green idols, Vinodini Lulla, founding CMCA co-ordinator said this was the first time they have used vegetables to create ‘veggie idols’.
“Vegetables are not only easily available, their use does not harm the environment, said Lulla, adding, “Only if bigger Ganesh mandals picked up such an idea can the true green spirit of the festival be celebrated.’’ Under the guidance of 50-year-old fashion designer Ferozie Wadia, students have also learnt to create idols using wheat flour. ‘‘Unlike clay and other harmful products, flour is edible to the fishes. We mix edible colour in the flour and avoid using any chemicals,’’ said Wadia, who is now teaching students to use various dals, including tur and moong among others, for decorating the idols, instead of flowers. “I discourage them from using flower garlands and coconuts, which also pollute the water. Hence, dal, which is edible to the fish,’’ she added.
Ruing the damage caused to the environment by plaster of Paris idols, Manish Solanki, a class 7 student at St Elias School in Khar, said, ‘’It was fun making the eco-Ganeshas. We were able to make the idols in less than a day. A day after the immersions, we encounter shocking scenes at beaches, with artificial materials refusing to dissolve in water harming the fauna.’’
Nupur Sirur, a class 7 student who innovated the veggie Ganesh idol, said, ‘’Vegetables are eco-friendly and after the immersion they will not cause any damage to the environment. It is better to use such materials instead of using artificial ones.’’