Free Press Journal

Mumbai: Ganesh Festival: Where the stars twinkle

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Mumbai: For nine consecutive years after celebrating Ganpati festival for half a century will tall idols, the Khetwadi 12th Lane Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal installed an idol of 14 feet this year too. Though the mandal members do not have any specific reason for reducing the height, it seems appropriate given the huge task of managing a tall idol and the cost which will incur.

Still, this Ganesh pandal caught attention of Who’s Who of Bollywood by having themes that combines mythology and popular films. And the pandals are often used as sets for Bollywood movies. When the Free Press Journal visited the mandal, a 14-feet idol of Ganpati has been installed in Parshuram avatar. This year, the mandal has come up with a theme based on Bahubali.

Earlier, the mandal would install idols not less than 30 feet. But after completing 50 years in 2007, the mandal decided to reduce the height to 14 feet. Four figurines of Bahubali are kept on both sides of the Ganesh idol, which is decked up with a gold necklace, gold earrings on the left ear and four bangles on both the hands in an avatar of Parshuram. Below the idol, two lions are placed on each side. There are 31 registered Sarvajanik Ganesh mandals in Khetwadi.


The Bahubali theme has been conceptualised by Suresh Mathur (55), the brother of the mandal’s president Ranjit Mathur. Their other brother, Ratan Mathur, has been making cushions kept below for the idol and he has been sought after in this art form. Ratan has also been making cushions for the Lalbaugcha Raja every year too.

“We are entering the 59th year of the mandal. Every year there is a footfall of nearly 10 lakh visitors every day. In the last few years, nearly 20-lakh visitors have been paying homage in the last few days of the festival. Blood donation camps and sport activities are conducted for the locals of Khetwadi from the proceeds that are generated from the mandal. Nearly Rs 15 lakh cash is generated every year through VIP passes of Rs.50 each,” Ranjit Mathur (53) said.

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Interestingly, Minesh Kumar (40), a native of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, who has been working on Bollywood movie sets since 1999, has also been sculpting the idols at the pandal. Kumar has worked on the sets of movies Bahubali, Tewar, Singham, Ghajini and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham to name a few.

Moreover, Jai Prakash (60), who paints the idols at the pandal, has also worked on the sets of Bollywood movies like Maine Pyaar Kiya and Ganga ki Saugandh. Craftsman Dharma Rajendra Pandey (70), a native of Gorakhpur at Uttar Pradesh, has also worked on the sets of Bollywood and has been crafting Ganpati idols here for the past 30 years. No surprise that numerous Bollywood stars and political bigwigs come for a darshan to this pandal every year.