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.
Top officials of insurance companies have their “fingers crossed” in the hope of landing the biggest accounts at Ganeshotsav. The city’s wealthiest mandal, GSB King’s Circle, has sought a cover of Rs 224 crore while Lalbaugcha Raja has trebled its policy from Rs 14 crore to Rs 45 crore.
The premium amount for such a deal would naturally run into several lakhs, an extremely profitable deal for a cover spanning 15-30 days.
Befitting its status as the wealthiest organizer in the city, the GSB Seva Mandal at King’s Circle has insured its celebration for Rs 224 crore. Senior-most trustee Satish Nayak says, “Last year, we took a cover of Rs 220 crore. This season, the figure has risen owing to the value of goldjewellery that adorns the deity.”
So sought after is the competition for the GSB account that the mandal had floated tenders for insurance companies. Around six of India’s leading firms responded with quotations and the mandal will announce a selection shortly. A senior official of New India Assurance says he is “crossing his fingers and is optimistic that the company will beat the competition”. “Ours may not be the lowest quote but it is the most comprehensive,” he says.
Nayak breaks down the component of the policy. “There is an all-risk cover of Rs 22.11 crore and a standard fire policy of Rs 1 crore. A public liability or third-party insurance of Rs 20 crore is included. The lion’s share of Rs 182 crore has been reserved for personal accident cover for 1,819 people, including volunteers, electricians and other labourers. That works out to roughly Rs 10 lakh per head,” he says. A small club in the playground where the mandal hosts its festivities has also been covered for Rs 35 lakh.
The GSB deity is installed for five days unlike the full 10 days that other sarvajanik mandals celebrate but even in this short span, its earnings outdo the rest. “Our visarjan will take place on September 23. Still, the insurance policy spans a duration of 15 days—from September 12 to 27, until the ornaments are safely deposited in bank,” says Nayak.
Over in Lalbaug, the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal has trebled its insurance cover from Rs 14 crore to Rs 45 crore. New India Assurance has netted this deal. “We have raised the personal accident cover for every visitor from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 6.25 lakh. The premium for the entire month works out to Rs 10-11 lakh, which is not too high considering we receive lakhs of devotees,” says Lalbaug treasurer Rajendra Lanjwal.
- Mumbai Mandals want squares near pandals to be named after Ganesh (mylordganesha.wordpress.com)
Even as the road to the Lalbaug temple is abuzz with activity, a veil of hushed secrecy persists closer to the pandal being erected inside. Policemen guard the Ganpati idol to ensure that no trespasser catches a glimpse of the Lord before the big day. “We have finished moulding the idoland will complete painting the 12-feet divine figure in a week,” said Santosh Kambli, sculptor and owner of Kambli Arts, which has been making the Lalbaugcha Raja idol since 1935.
“Since 2005, we have been creating a 3-D background using plaster of paris to accentuate the overall look. Though the face and expression of the murti has remained the same in the past 78 years, we keep altering the pattern of the singhasan (throne) and the pose he strikes,” added Kambli, who had applied for a copyright for the idol in July.
This year, members of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal are expecting a larger turnout.
“There could be more than 1.5 crore devotees coming to seek darshan during the 10-day festival. Security is our primary concern,” said Ashok Pawar, president of the mandal. “We are going to have closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras inside and outside the pandal and will also have facilities such as clean toilets, water supply and a medical unit complete with an ICU for the devotees.”
For the devotees, the theme and facilities are not as important as the emotional connect they have with the Lord. “Since my childhood, I have been visiting the mandal. Earlier, the queues were mismanaged and there were no washrooms on the way, making it highly inconvenient.
However, over the last five years, the entire experience has become a lot smoother and last year, I saw him, after seven hours in the queue,” said Manjula Patkar, 29, who will be playing host to her Raigad-based relatives coming down to the city to seek the Raja’s darshan.
- Ganesh Pandals 2011 – Popular Ganapati Pandals 2011 in Mumbai during Ganesh Chaturthi (mylordganesha.wordpress.com)
- Pray to a foot-in-mouth Ganesha (mylordganesha.wordpress.com)
Bella Jaisinghani, TNN
The unprecedented treasure discovered at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Kerala proves that spirituality is not the only wealth that temples amass. From Mumbais richest Siddhivinayak temple that grosses up to Rs 49 crore annually to the Saibaba temple in Shirdi whose official annual income is in the range of Rs 320 crorea figure said to be conservative at bestthe business of devotion is thriving in Maharashtra.
Boosting its status is the fact that Lord Shani is the deity with the fastest growing number of worshippers in India. Over the past few years,the number of devotees visiting his nodal shrine in the town of Shani Shinganapur has swelled beyond measure. The Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati mandal,which is a makeshift pandal,grosses Rs 18 crore during the 10 days of Ganeshotsav.
Breaking with tradition from previous years,temple administrators are no longer wary of disclosing their annual income. Mangesh Shinde,executive officer of Siddhivinayak temple,readily says that Mumbais richest temple earned an annual income of Rs 48. 89 crore in the fiscal year 2010-11. Of this,we received 38 crore by way of donations while puja bookings brought in around Rs 3 crore. Other assets include fixed deposits worth Rs 144 crore,110 kg gold and 1,100 kg silver, says Shinde. We do not own real estate other than the Prabhadevi temple premises.
Sources at the Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan put their annual income at Rs 320 crore. However,they add that they reserve hundreds of crores towards welfare schemes every year. Several more go into providing infrastructure and hospitality for tourists;a bus stand that is to be erected in the area must be extraordinary as the budget for it is nothing less than Rs 20 crore. On the one hand,riches beget riches. Visuals of golden ornaments being donated to the Shirdi Sai Sansthan or ornate silver chhatras (umbrellas ) being offered to the Andhericha Raja Ganpati mandal have been known to drive more donors to these sites. Hundreds of bidders arrive at the L a l – b a u g ch a Raja annual auction to buy precious offerings made by devotees each Ganeshotsav.
The pendulum swings in the opposite direction as well. We would prefer not to be included in the list of richest temples in the country, says the spokesperson of a prominent shrine in the state. This negatively prejudices not just devotees,but also government sources. They tend to hold back donations or funding for infrastructure. Individuals tend to divert their charity elsewhere.
By DNA Correspondent
Mumbai: God’s benevolence may not be exclusive, but his physical manifestation certainly is. Or so thinks Santosh Kambli, long-time sculptor of the famous Lalbaugcha Raja idols, who has filed an application to patent the different shapes of his Ganesh creations.
Kambli has applied for copyrights of his idols to the Controller General of Patents Designs & Trade Marks. Last year, Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal secured a global patent for the city’s favourite idol, whereby no one can use the name Lalbaugcha Raja for any product, commercial venture or even create a website bearing the name.
Kambli, a well-known sculptor, has been making the Lalbaugcha Raja idol since many years, his family having entered the idol-making business 80 years ago. He is the third-generation Kambli to continue the line of work.
For Ganeshotsav festival, Kambli makes more than 100 idols, their height ranging from two to 12 feet. To ensure that his work is copyrighted and other sculptors do not use his style, Kambli has approached the patent office, and has submitted the necessary documents.
“Idol-making is family business since my grandfather’s time. We have a different and unique style for specific Ganesh idols. Due to the cut-throat competition, people can easily make a die of our idols and run a roaring business. We want to secure our talent and uniqueness. No one should infringe the law. Therefore, we have applied for the copyrights. It is the safest way to protect our talent and art,” Kambli said.
“Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the idols in my series. After the popularity of Lalbaugcha idols, most artists want to made idols like it. Though we do not have an objection on this, our concern is that no one should use a die of our idol,” Kambli added.
“I have received the patent number after submission of papers. If someone is found guilty of copying our work, we will a file case against them.”
Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh: Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati, situated near Lower Parel, is the most famous Ganesh idol in Mumbai. In 2010, the set looks like a king’s durbar or court. Millions of devotes will have the darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja ever year. This year, the organizers set air cooling enclosures for the devotees who will wait for several hours to get the darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati.
Ganesh Galli Ganpati: Ganesh Galli Ganpati, located near Parel, is the most popular Ganpati pandal to decorate the mandal with new theme every year. For 2010, organizers decorated Ganesh Galli Pandal as Mysore Chamundeshwari Temple.
Khetwadicha Raja: Khetwadicha Raja Ganpati, located in Khetwadi Grant Road, is studded with gold and diamond work, with tusks of pure gold. In 2010, theme of Khetwadicha Raja is heaven.
GSB Seva Ganesha: This Ganesh idol is also known as Mumbai’s Gold Ganesha. Adorned with 61 kilograms of gold and more than 300 kilograms of silver, GSB Seva’s Ganesh idol will remain for first five days of Ganesh festival. The height of the idol is 20 feet.
Chandanwadi Ganpati: Chandanwadi Ganesh idol, located at Kalbadevi, is the tallest Ganpati idol in Mumbai. In 2010, this 23-foot Ganesh idol is accompanied by an eagle.
As the entire Maharashtra has been set to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi Festival from Saturday, the famous Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has made special arrangements for the devotees.
This year devotees will offer prayers to City’s famous Lord Ganesha’s idol in air condition facilities.
Lalbaugcha Raja is Mumbai’s famous Ganesha idol and large number of crowd turns out for darshan (Worship) during the 10-day long Ganesh Mahotsav. It is expected that around six lakh people will visit the Lalbaugcha Raja idol each day.
According to the sources, a devotee will have to wait 10 hrs to reach the idol. The queue is expected to eight-km long from the pandal.
The Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal is famous for its innovative idea every year.
The Madal has prepared a massive float for Lalbaugcha Raja’s immersion ceremony. The massive float will help the immersion of Lalbaugcha Raja in deep sea.
On the other hand, thick security arrangements have been made in the wake of possible terror threat. The Mumbai Police has deployed around 1500 policemen while the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has its own 5000 guards.
Source: Sahara Samay
Devotees queueing up for ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ this year will no longer have to brave the intense heat or heavy downpour to catch a glimpse of Mumbai’s most famous deity, as the Ganesh Mandal which hosts the pandal has decided to set up air-conditioned waiting enclosures to turn the ‘darshan’ into a pleasant experience. “In a first in seven decades, we are setting up a waiting enclosure measuring 60,000 sq ft to prevent devotees from heat and rains during the festival.
It is on a ground that we have taken on rent from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC),” Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal (LRSGM), President, Satish Khankar told PTI. The ground can accommodate at least 15,000 people at a time and will have five giant air conditioning units for the comfort of devotees, he said. Lakhs of people turn up from far off places including foreigners and stand for hours in queues running into several kilometres only to get a ‘darshan’ of the idol at LRSGM, which is celebrating its 76th Ganeshotsav.
“As devotees have to wait in queues for 16-20 hours, we will provide tea, snacks and bottled water to them free of cost,” Khankar said. The Ganesh mandal will also provide for doctors and nurses to offer medical aid to worshippers. “The enclosure will have a 24-hour intensive care unit managed by doctors and medical attendants we kept ambulances.There will be toilets as well,” he said.